Learn How to Prevent
Thirdhand Smoke Exposure

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue that is left behind on clothes, skin, furniture, walls, and other surfaces after someone smokes.

Thirdhand smoke is also known as “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke”. The mixture of pollutants in thirdhand smoke is toxic to humans, especially children.

What is thirdhand smoke?

The short answer: Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded...

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image of the reproductive system and text on effects of THS

What Does Thirdhand Smoke Exposure Do to Our Bodies?

The chemicals in thirdhand smoke can affect the normal function of many parts of our body. Researchers at Nantong University’s Institute of Reproductive Medicine reviewed existing thirdhand smoke research to summarize the effects of thirdhand smoke chemicals on our livers, lungs, brains, and our immune and reproductive systems. By Leta...

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infographic of how smoking affects the resale value of your home

Does thirdhand smoke decrease my home’s value?

When people smoke inside their home, the chemicals in tobacco smoke build up over time and leave toxic thirdhand smoke residue on carpets, furniture, walls, doors, and ceilings. This toxic residue lingers long after smoking stops and can remain after previous smokers moved out.

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a 'no smoking' sign is suspended on the fence around a public pool

What are the advantages of making my rental properties smokefree?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture,...

Read More
infographic of how smoking affects the resale value of your home

Does thirdhand smoke decrease my home’s value?

When people smoke inside their home, the chemicals in tobacco smoke build up over time and leave toxic thirdhand smoke residue on carpets, furniture, walls, doors, and ceilings. This toxic residue lingers long after smoking stops and can remain after previous smokers moved out.

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How can I remove thirdhand smoke from my home?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

Thirdhand smoke penetrates deep into materials and is not easy to remove from polluted locations. Materials prone to thirdhand smoke contamination include carpets, pillows, upholstery, furniture, sheetrock, drywall, floors, and ceilings. These reservoirs make it very difficult and expensive to remove thirdhand smoke damage.

Some research has been done to determine the best ways to remove thirdhand smoke. Evidence is limited but growing. Here is what we currently know about cleaning and odor removal:

Common household cleaning of surfaces, floors, fabric, toys, plates, and cutlery

  • Frequent and thorough household cleaning can reduce thirdhand smoke residue that has accumulated on surfaces and in dust. This process requires frequent vacuuming with a HEPA filter and regular wiping/washing/scrubbing of surfaces with acidic (e.g., white household vinegar) and alkaline (e.g., Simple Green) cleaning solutions. Always follow manufacturers’ instructions on the proper dilution and use of cleaning solutions.
  • Thirdhand smoke polluted clothes, blankets, pillows, and cloth toys may be cleaned in a washing machine. Depending on how polluted the fabrics are, they may have to be washed multiple time
  • Plates, cutlery, and plastic toys affected by thirdhand smoke may be cleaned in a dishwasher. Depending on how badly polluted the objects are, you may need to wash them multiple times.
  • Homes have many hidden surfaces that can become polluted by thirdhand smoke such as HVAC ducts, underside of tables, insides of cabinets, backside of bookcase, wall covered by painting, mattresses, upholstery, and closets.  Cleaning these hidden thirdhand smoke reservoirs in a home can substantially reduce the presence of thirdhand smoke pollutants. 
  • When polluted objects cannot be cleaned, they should be considered for replacement and disposal (e.g., HVAC ducts, mattresses).

Caution:  Unless the underlying THS reservoirs are removed (e.g., walls, furniture, carpet backing), THS will be re-emitted from these reservoirs and continue to pollute household surfaces and dust.  


Heavily Polluted Walls, Ceiling, and Floors

  • Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) is sometimes used by professionals (e.g., painters, remediation experts) to deal with persistent thirdhand smoke residue. This method requires washing/scrubbing any and all surfaces such as doors, floors, ceilings, walls, baseboards, and floorboards before applying primers and painting. TSP is a hazardous chemical, and its safe application requires specialized tools and personal protective equipment. The long-term effectiveness of these cleaning methods is currently not well understood and depends on the severity of the thirdhand smoke damage. This type of cleaning removes accumulated residue on surfaces. However, cleaning with TSP is insufficient in removing thirdhand smoke residue that has become embedded into materials like wood panels, particle board, and drywall.
  • After cleaning, special paint primers are sometimes used (e.g., alcohol-based) before repainting.  Priming and painting may trap thirdhand smoke residue on a wall, but painting over an exposed surface cannot remove thirdhand smoke pollutants. It might, however, temporarily remove the stale tobacco smoke odor. Reports of thirdhand smoke residue penetration through new coats of paint (i.e., “bleeding through”) suggest that painting is unlikely to be a permanent solution to thirdhand smoke. The short-term and long-term effectiveness of this approach is currently not well understood.
  • Caution: If the walls, ceilings, and floors are heavily polluted with thirdhand smoke, it is likely that the pollutants have penetrated in the drywall and ceiling panels, into the utility ducts, and into wall insulation.  Removing pollutants from the outside of a wall does not remove the pollutants embedded in the material or behind the wall. 

Removing Stale Tobacco Odor does NOT mean that THS pollutants have been removed

  • Reducing the odor of thirdhand smoke does not protect individuals from chemical exposure. The perception of odor is how we sense chemical compounds in the air. Some hazardous chemicals are odorless or even have a pleasant smell, while other chemicals that are not harmful sometimes have unpleasant odors. Moreover, some of the thirdhand smoke pollutants are not in the air but linger on surfaces and in dust
  • Some approaches to eliminating odors involve tricking our senses by covering up an unpleasant smell with a pleasant fragrance. However, this strategy does not remove any thirdhand smoke pollutants and may make an environment more irritating because new chemical compounds are added to the air (e.g., floral aerosols).

Misperceptions about Cleaning Thirdhand Smoke

  • Tobacco smoke quickly spreads throughout a room, to neighboring rooms, through air and utility ducts, and entire buildings.  Because thirdhand smoke is noticed in only one room, does not mean other rooms are unaffected.
  • Covering up the unpleasant odor of stale tobacco smoke with fragrance does not remove thirdhand smoke.
  • “Odor Killers” might succeed in you no longer being able to smell unpleasant odors. They are unable to remove THS reservoirs causing the odors.
  • Killing and removing organic growth (e.g., mold, fungi, pests) does not affect chemical pollutants such as thirdhand smoke. 
  • Well-maintained air purifiers with HEPA filters are effective in removing hazardous thirdhand smoke particles from the air. 
  • However, they are not effective in removing volatile and semi-volatile chemical compounds that might be off-gassing from thirdhand smoke reservoirs.  Removing volatile chemical compounds from the air requires air purifiers with charcoal filtration.
  • Removing thirdhand smoke pollutants from the air does not remove them from surface, inside materials or from dust.

Clean, Replace, Remodel

Cleaning up thirdhand smoke polluted indoor environments can be very expensive.  It all depends on how long and how much previous occupants smoked and how much thirdhand smoke has accumulated.  In some cases, washing and wiping surfaces and replacing carpets and furniture might be enough.  If tobacco has been used in an indoor space repeatedly over extended periods of time, large reservoirs of thirdhand smoke chemicals will be deeply embedded in the building materials (e.g., drywall, insulation) — in addition to lingering on surfaces. In this case, the building materials need to be completely replaced and a full renovation may be required.

Updated: June 2022

Sources:

Ask This Old House. Understanding Thirdhand Smoke. Home Safety Videos. Retrieved from: https://www.thisoldhouse.com/home-safety/21249597/understanding-thirdhand-smoke.

Bahl V, Jacob P, 3rd, Havel C, Schick SF, Talbot P. Thirdhand cigarette smoke: factors affecting exposure and remediation. PloS one. 2014;9(10):e108258. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108258. PubMed PMID: 25286392; PMCID: 4186756.

Matt GE, Quintana PJE, Hoh E, Zakarian JM, Dodder NG, Record RA, Hovell MF, Mahabee-Gittens EM, Padilla S, Markman L, Watanabe K, Novotny TE. Remediating Thirdhand Smoke Pollution in Multiunit Housing: Temporary Reductions and the Challenges of Persistent Reservoirs. Nicotine Tob Res. 2021;23(2):364-72. Epub 2020/08/18. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntaa151. PubMed PMID: 32803265; PMCID: PMC7822102.

Matt GE, Hoh E, Quintana PJE, Zakarian JM, Arceo J. Cotton pillows: A novel field method for assessment of thirdhand smoke pollution. Environ Res. 2019;168:206-10. Epub 2018/10/15. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.09.025. PubMed PMID: 30317105.

Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Zakarian JM, Fortmann AL, Chatfield DA, Hoh E, Uribe AM, Hovell MF. When smokers move out and non-smokers move in: residential thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure. Tob Control. 2011;20(1):e1. doi: 10.1136/tc.2010.037382. PubMed PMID: 21037269; PMCID: 3666918.

Sleiman M, Destaillats H, Smith JD, Liu C, Ahmed M, Wilson KR Gundel LA. Secondary organic aerosol formation from ozone-initiated reactions with nicotine and secondhand tobacco smoke. Atmos Env. 2010; 44:4191-4198.

What surfaces does thirdhand smoke stick to?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

Although the smoke in the air seems to disappear after someone smokes, thirdhand smoke remains on surfaces, in dust, and on objects. Over time, thirdhand smoke becomes embedded into materials and can adhere to virtually any indoor surface, including walls, carpets, windows, and doors. Thirdhand smoke can also stick to commonly used objects, such as furniture, books, toys, dishes, silverware, curtains, blankets, and pillows. It can stick to skin, hair, and clothing too. In an environment where tobacco was smoked regularly for years, thirdhand smoke would likely contaminate every surface and object. This includes hidden surfaces that we may not typically see, such as the underside of tables, the inside of closets and drawers, the spongy material underneath a carpet, wallboard, and housing insulation. Some surfaces, such as drywall, carpets, and pillows, act like a sponge soaking up water, and store toxic thirdhand smoke chemicals. Just like how water evaporates from a wet sponge, these chemicals can later be released back into the air or transferred via touch, leading to harmful exposure long after tobacco was smoked.

Thirdhand smoke can also be carried from one place to another, for example when furniture is moved from a home where someone smoked into another home or when a person enters a smokefree indoor space after a smoking break.

Updated: July 2022

Sources:

Matt GE, Hoh E, Quintana PJE, Zakarian JM, Arceo J. Cotton pillows: A novel field method for assessment of thirdhand smoke pollution. Environ Res. 2019;168:206-10.

Matt, G. E., Quintana, P. J., Hovell, M. F., Chatfield, D., Ma, D. S., Romero, R., & Uribe, A. (2008). Residual tobacco smoke pollution in used cars for sale: air, dust, and surfaces. Nicotine Tob Res, 10(9), 1467-1475. doi:10.1080/14622200802279898.

Matt GE, Quintana PJE, Zakarian JM, Hoh E, Hovell MF, Mahabee-Gittens M, Watanabe K, Datuin K, Vue C, Chatfield DA. When smokers quit: exposure to nicotine and carcinogens persists from thirdhand smoke pollution. Tob Control. 2016;26(5):548-556. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2016-053119.

Schick SF, Farraro KF, Perrino C, Sleiman M, van de Vossenberg G, Trinh MP, Hammond SK, Jenkins BM, Balmes J. Thirdhand cigarette smoke in an experimental chamber: evidence of surface deposition of nicotine, nitrosamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and de novo formation of NNK. Tob Control. 2014;23(2):152-9.

What does it mean when we smell stale tobacco smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

Have you ever walked into a room and gotten a whiff of stale tobacco smoke? Or maybe smelled it as someone walked by?  The smell of stale cigarette smoke--even when no one is smoking--is a sign of thirdhand smoke. As we breathe in, odor receptors in our noses recognize the chemicals in thirdhand smoke and trigger a signal in our brains that allows us to recognize stale tobacco smoke.  

When we smell stale tobacco smoke, it means that thirdhand smoke pollutants have been released into the air from places where they have accumulated. As we breathe this polluted air, we are bringing thirdhand smoke pollutants into our bodies. Thirdhand smoke pollutants contain chemicals that can irritate many organs in our bodies (including the nose, throat, lungs, liver, and skin), cause inflammation, harm normal cell functioning, damage DNA, and cause cancer in humans

Even when we cannot smell tobacco smoke, thirdhand smoke can still be present. Our sense of smell is a good warning system, but we are only able to smell an odor when the amount of a chemical is above the level that our noses can detect. We may not be able to smell thirdhand smoke below this level, but that does not mean there is no toxic thirdhand smoke present. To further complicate matters, some of the chemicals in thirdhand smoke are odorless; we cannot smell them no matter how much is present. 

So, while the smell of stale tobacco smoke can be a good indicator of thirdhand smoke, we can still be exposed to these harmful chemicals even if we cannot detect them.

Updated: September 2022

Sources:

Hang B, Wang P, Zhao Y, Sarker A, Chenna A, Xia Y, Snijders AM, Mao JH. Adverse health effects of thirdhand smoke: From cell to animal models. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Apr 28;18(5). pii: E932.

Martins-Green M, Adhami N, Frankos M, Valdez M, Goodwin B, Lyubovitsky J, Dhall S, Garcia M, Egiebor I, Martinez B, Green HW, Havel C, Yu L, Liles S, Matt  G, Destaillats HSleiman MGundel LA, Benowitz N, Jacob III P, Hovell M, J.P. Winickoff, M. Curras-Collazo. Cigarette smoke toxins deposited on surfaces: Implications for human health. PLoS One. 2014:9:1:e86391.

Matt GE, Quintana PJE, Zakarian JM, Hoh E, Hovell MF, Mahabee-Gittens M, Watanabe K, Datuin K, Vue C, Chatfield DA. When smokers quit: exposure to nicotine and carcinogens persists from thirdhand smoke pollution. Tob Control. 2016; 26(5):548-556.

Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Zakarian JM, Fortmann AL, Chatfield DA, Hoh E, Uribe AM, Hovell MF. When smokers move out and non-smokers move in: residential thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure. Tob Control. 2011;20(1):e1.

Pozuelos G, Kagda M, Schick S, Girke T, Volz DC, Talbot P. Acute exposure to thirdhand smoke leads to rapid changes in the human nasal epithelial transcriptome. JAMA Network Open. 2019. 2(6):e196362. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.6362

What is thirdhand smoke?

The short answer: Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

The long answer: Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue that persists after secondhand tobacco smoke has disappeared from the air. Secondhand smoke is a combination of the sidestream smoke of a cigarette and the mainstream smoke exhaled by smokers. Thirdhand smoke is not strictly smoke, but a mixture of toxic chemicals that stick to surfaces, become embedded in materials, such as carpets, walls, furniture, blankets, and toys, and can later be re-emitted back into the air and accumulate in house dust. Thirdhand smoke can linger indoors for years. People can be exposed to thirdhand smoke by touching contaminated surfaces (absorption through the skin), by eating contaminated objects or dust, and by breathing contaminated air and re-suspended thirdhand smoke components.

The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. The California Air Resource Board has classified secondhand smoke as a toxic air contaminant. Because secondhand smoke leads to thirdhand smoke, it is not surprising that numerous secondhand smoke constituents are also found in thirdhand smoke, such as human carcinogens, reproductive toxicants, and developmental toxicants (as defined by California’s Proposition 65 and the International Agency for Cancer Research). Some chemicals in thirdhand smoke are not found in freshly emitted tobacco smoke because they are the result of the chemical transformation of tobacco smoke components in the environment.

Updated: July 2022

Sources:

Matt, G. E., P. J. Quintana, H. Destaillats, L. A. Gundel, M. Sleiman, B. C. Singer, P. Jacob, N. Benowitz, J. P. Winickoff, V. Rehan, P. Talbot, S. Schick, J. Samet, Y. Wang, B. Hang, M. Martins-Green, J. F. Pankow, and M. F. Hovell. 2011. “Thirdhand tobacco smoke: emerging evidence and arguments for a multidisciplinary research agenda.”  Environ Health Perspect 119 (9):1218-26. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1103500.

Jacob, P., 3rd, N. L. Benowitz, H. Destaillats, L. Gundel, B. Hang, M. Martins-Green, G. E. Matt, P. J. Quintana, J. M. Samet, S. F. Schick, P. Talbot, N. J. Aquilina, M. F. Hovell, J. H. Mao, and T. P. Whitehead. 2017. “Thirdhand Smoke: New Evidence, Challenges, and Future Directions.”  Chem Res Toxicol 30 (1):270-294. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.6b00343.

Sleiman M, Destaillats H, Smith JD, Liu C, Ahmed M, Wilson KR Gundel LA. Secondary organic aerosol formation from ozone-initiated reactions with nicotine and secondhand
tobacco smoke. Atmos Env. 2010; 44:4191-4198.

California Environmental Protection Agency, Air Resources Board, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Technical support document for the “Proposed Identification of Environmental Tobacco Smoke as a Toxic Air Contaminant, Part A. http://www.arb.ca.gov/regact/ets2006/ets2006.htm

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2006. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Available: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke/

State of California, Environmental Protection Agency. Chemicals Known to the State to Cause Cancer or Reproductive Toxicity. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. February 25, 2022. https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/proposition-65-list

What do we know about the health risks of thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

Secondhand smoke contains thousands of chemicals in the form of gases and very small and sticky particles. Many of these pollutants are known to cause cancer and heart disease and harm your lung and reproductive health.  Thirdhand smoke contains a subset of these particles and gasses that can linger for years in carpets, walls, furniture, and other objects and materials.

People and pets come into contact with thirdhand smoke when their skin touches a surface where thirdhand smoke has collected. Someone can breathe in pollutants from thirdhand smoke gases and particles in the air, or by ingesting thirdhand smoke residue from objects they put in their mouth.

Five major lines of research demonstrate the impact of thirdhand smoke exposure on human health.

1) Research on the effects of chemicals found in thirdhand smoke:

Thirdhand smoke contains some of the same toxic chemicals as first- and secondhand smoke, including tobacco-specific nitrosamines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, heavy metals, nicotelline, and ultrafine particles with a median diameter <0.10 µm. There is overwhelming evidence that exposure to this mixture of toxic chemicals and ultrafine particulate matter is harmful to human health.  Some of these chemicals are listed by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (https://monographs.iarc.who.int/).   California law requires that more than 25 of the pollutants found in thirdhand smoke to be listed under Prop 65 because they are known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm (https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65).

2) Research on the effect of thirdhand smoke exposure on human cells under controlled laboratory conditions:

Studies of human cells show that exposure to thirdhand smoke can directly damage DNA (e.g., DNA strand breaks), the genetic material found in nearly every cell in the human body that contains the instructions our cells need to develop, function, grow, and reproduce.  Thirdhand smoke causes oxidative stress in human cells, interfering with their normal functioning and repair mechanisms.  In the presence of thirdhand smoke chemicals, the ability of human cell to regenerate and repair themselves is impaired.

3) Research on the presence of thirdhand smoke and human exposure to thirdhand smoke in real-world field settings:

The presence and persistence of thirdhand smoke has been demonstrated in many different nonsmoking settings. They include: single-family homes, low-income multi-unit housing, high-end condominiums, homes of nonsmokers with smoking bans, homes of smokers after they stop smoking, homes after smokers moved out, nonsmoking rooms in hotels, public places, and public transportation. People living in these environments have been shown to be exposed to toxic constituents of thirdhand smoke. Evidence of exposure is based on the presence of thirdhand smoke biomarkers in the urine, blood, or saliva.  Newborns, infants, children, and adult nonsmokers living in thirdhand smoke polluted environments have been shown to thirdhand smoke toxicants in their bodies.

4) Research on the effects of thirdhand smoke exposure conducted on animals under controlled laboratory conditions:

In 1953, one of the earliest animal studies on thirdhand smoke was conducted , showing that mice developed skin cancer when thirdhand smoke residue was applied to their skin. A more recent study showed that mice exposed to thirdhand smoke through their bedding material have the following symptoms:

  • slow wound healing
  • inflammation in lungs
  • elevated levels of fat in liver
  • high blood sugar levels
  • increased blood clotting
  • hyperactive behavior
  • poor weight gain after birth
  • elevated LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels

5) Research conducted on humans in laboratories and real-world field conditions:

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco studied the effects of thirdhand smoke exposure in healthy, non-smoking human volunteers in a laboratory setting. They established that after only three hours of exposure to thirdhand smoke, there was damage to the participants’ lung cells.

Researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and San Diego State University found that children exposed to thirdhand smoke were more likely to be diagnosed with pulmonary illness, viral/other infectious illness, and bacterial infection.

Summary

The evidence from laboratory experiments on human cells and animals, controlled studies on healthy humans, and real-world field studies in the community show that thirdhand smoke

  • contains chemicals toxic to humans
  • persists in the environment
  • can cause harm to multiple organ systems in the human body.

Updated: September 2022


Sources:

Hang B, Wang P, Zhao Y, Sarker A, Chenna A, Xia Y, Snijders AM, Mao JH. Adverse health effects of thirdhand smoke: From cell to animal models. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;18(5). pii: E932. doi: 10.3390/ijms18050932.

Jacob P 3rd, Benowitz NL, Destaillats H, Gundel L, Hang B, Martins-Green M, Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Samet JM, Schick SF, Talbot P, Aquilina NJ, Hovell MF, Mao JH, Whitehead TP. Thirdhand Smoke: New Evidence, Challenges, and Future Directions. Chem Res Toxcicol. 2017;30(1):270-294. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.6b00343. Epub 2016 Dec.

Martins-Green M, Adhami N, Frankos M, Valdez M, Goodwin B, Lyubovitsky J, Dhall S, Garcia M, Egiebor I, Martinez B, Green HW, Havel C, Yu L, Liles S, Matt  G, Destaillats HSleiman MGundel LA, Benowitz N, Jacob III P, Hovell M, J.P. Winickoff, M. Curras-Collazo. Cigarette smoke toxins deposited on surfaces: Implications for human health. PLoS One. 2014:9:1:e86391.

Mahabee-Gittens EM, Merianos AL, Jandarov RA, Quintana PJE, Hoh E, Matt GE. Differential associations of hand nicotine and urinary cotinine with children’s exposure to tobacco smoke and clinical outcomes. Environ Res. 2021 Nov;202:111722. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111722. Epub 2021 Jul 21. PMID: 34297932; PMCID: PMC8578289.

Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Zakarian JM, Fortmann AL, Chatfield DA, Hoh E, Uribe AM, Hovell MF. When smokers move out and non-smokers move in: Residential thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure. Tob Control. 2011;20(1):e1.

Matt GE, Quintana PJE, Zakarian JM, Hoh E, Hovell MF, Mahabee-Gittens M, Watanabe K, Datuin K, Vue C, Chatfield DA. When smokers quit: Exposure to nicotine and carcinogens persists from thirdhand smoke pollution. Tob Control. 2017;26(5):548-556.

Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Fortmann AL, Zakarian JM, Galaviz VE, Chatfield DA, Hoh E, Hovell MF, Winston C. Thirdhand smoke and exposure in California hotels: Non-smoking rooms fail to protect non-smoking hotel guests from tobacco smoke exposure. Tob Control. 2014;23(3):264-72.

Matt GE, Quintana PJE, Hoh E, Zakarian JM, Chowdhury Z, Hovell MF, Jacob P, Watanabe K, Theweny TS, Flores V, Nguyen A, Dhaliwal N, Hayward G. A Casino goes smoke free: A longitudinal study of secondhand and thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure. Tob Control. 2018. Epub 2018/02/14.

Matt GE, Fortmann AL, Quintana PJ, Zakarian JM, Romero RA, Chatfield DA, Hoh E, Hovell MF. Towards smoke-free rental cars: An evaluation of voluntary smoking restrictions in California. Tob Control. 2013;22(3):201-207.

Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Hovell MF, Chatfield D, Ma DS, Romero R, Uribe A. Residual tobacco smoke pollution in used cars for sale: Air, dust, and surfaces. Nicotine Tob Res. 2008;10(9):1467-1475.

Pozuelos G, Kagda M, Schick S, Girke T, Volz DC, Talbot P. Acute exposure to thirdhand smoke leads to rapid changes in the human nasal epithelial transcriptome. JAMA Network Open. 2019. 2(6):e196362. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.6362

Wynder EL, Graham EA, Croninger AB. 1953. Experimental production of carcinoma with cigarette tar. Cancer Res. 13, 855-64.

What tobacco products contribute to thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

Cigarettes are not the only source of thirdhand smoke. Any tobacco product, including cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, little cigars, pipes, electronic cigarettes, water pipes (sometimes called hookah or shisha), dissolvable products, and smokeless tobacco products such as chew, spit, snuff, and snus, can be a source of thirdhand smoke. 

Tobacco products are manufactured from the leaves of the tobacco plant. Some of toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke occur naturally in the tobacco plant, others are added or created during the manufacturing process, and yet others form when tobacco is burned.

All tobacco products can leave behind a chemical residue. Scientists most frequently study the toxic residue from burning tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, and pipes and hookah. Nonetheless, even tobacco products that do not burn are associated with thirdhand smoke. One study found evidence indicating that thirdhand smoke from vaping was linked to developmental issues when infant mice were exposed. Increased levels of thirdhand smoke have been found in indoor environments where residents used smokeless tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and marijuana. 

Updated: August 2022

Sources:

Chen, H., Li, G., Allam, V. S. R. R., Wang, B., Chan, Y. L., Scarfo, C., Ueland, M., Shimmon, R., Fu, S., Foster, P., & Oliver, B. G. (2020). Evidence from a mouse model on the dangers of thirdhand electronic cigarette exposure during early life. ERJ Open Research, 6(2), 00022–02020. https://doi.org/10.1183/23120541.00022-2020.

Goniewicz ML, Lee L. Electronic cigarettes are a source of thirdhand exposure to nicotine. Nicotine Tob Res. 2015; 17(2):256-258. Published online 2014 August 30. 

Jacob P 3rd, Benowitz NL, Destaillats H, Gundel L, Hang B, Martins-Green M, Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Samet JM, Schick SF, Talbot P, Aquilina NJ, Hovell MF, Mao JH, Whitehead TP. Thirdhand Smoke: New Evidence, Challenges, and Future Directions. Chem Res Toxicol. 2017;30(1), 270-294. 

Marcham CL, Floyd EL, Wood BL, Arnold S, & Johnson DL. (2019). E-cigarette nicotine deposition and persistence on glass and cotton surfaces. Journal of occupational and environmental hygiene, 16(5), 349–354. https://doi.org/10.1080/15459624.2019.1581366.

Sempio C, Lindley E, Klawitter J, Christians U, Bowler RP, Adgate JL, Allshouse W, Awdziejczyk L, Fischer S, Bainbridge J, Vandyke M, Netsanet R, Crume T, Kinney GL. Surface detection of THC attributable to vaporizer use in the indoor environment. Sci Rep. 2019; 9(1):18587. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-55151-5.

Son Y, Giovenco DP, Delnevo C, Khlystov A, Samburova V, Meng Q. Indoor air quality and passive e-cigarette aerosol exposures in vape-shops [published online ahead of print, 2020 May 23]. Nicotine Tob Res. 2020;ntaa094. doi:10.1093/ntr/ntaa094.

Yeh, K., Li, L., Wania, F., & Abbatt, J. P. (2022). Thirdhand smoke from tobacco, e-cigarettes, cannabis, methamphetamine and cocaine: Partitioning, reactive fate, and human exposure in indoor environments. Environment International, 160, 107063. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.107063

How can I be exposed to thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

There are a few different ways people can be exposed to thirdhand smoke:

Through Touching

People can be exposed to thirdhand smoke when their skin comes in contact with a polluted surface. Such surfaces could be the steering wheel of a car, clothes, a blanket, a table, a toy, or a chair. From a polluted surface, thirdhand smoke chemicals can stick to your skin, enter your blood stream, and circulate through your body, where they may harm your DNA, immune system, and cardiovascular system. If you think you have touched surfaces contaminated with thirdhand smoke, wash your hands immediately.

Through Breathing 

It is possible to breathe in thirdhand smoke chemicals and particles suspended in the air. Thirdhand smoke can be released from clothing, furniture, carpets, walls, or pillows. When this chemical release happens, we can sometimes smell stale tobacco smoke – but not always. When you smell stale tobacco smoke, it is not just a foul odor. It is a mixture of toxic chemicals that enters your body through your lungs.

Through Entering the Mouth

People can swallow thirdhand smoke when they put objects polluted with thirdhand smoke (e.g., toys, cups, utensils, fingers) into their mouths. Young children are at the highest risk of swallowing thirdhand smoke because they put many objects in their mouths, particularly when teething. 

Updated: August 2022


Sources:

Matt GE, Merianos AL, Quintana PJE, Hoh E, Dodder NG, Mahabee-Gittens EM. Prevalence and Income-Related Disparities in Thirdhand Smoke Exposure to Children. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(2):e2147184. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.47184.

Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Zakarian JM, Fortmann AL, Chatfield DA, Hoh E., et al. When smokers move out and non-smokers move in: residential thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure. Tob. Control. 2011; 20. e1 10.1136/tc.2010.037382.

Jacob P, Benowitz NL 3rd, Destaillats H, Gundel L, Hang B, Martins-Green M, et al. Thirdhand smoke: new evidence, challenges, and future directions. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 2017; 30:270–294. 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.6b00343.

Tang X, Benowitz N, Gundel L, Hang B, Havel CM, Hoh E, Jacob P, Mao Jian-Hua, Martins-Green Manuela, Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Russell M, Sarker Altaf, Schick S, Snijders A, and Destaillats H. Thirdhand Exposures to Tobacco-Specific Nitrosamines through Inhalation, Dust Ingestion, Dermal Uptake, and Epidermal Chemistry. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2022; https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.2c02559.

How long does thirdhand smoke last?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

In homes where tobacco has been smoked regularly over many years, the thirdhand smoke residue is likely to be embedded in materials throughout the home. These reservoirs of pollution can be very persistent. For instance, we have found thirdhand smoke on surfaces years after the last known cigarette was smoked. 

In one case, after a person who had smoked in the home moved out, the home was cleaned and remained empty for months. Still, thirdhand smoke levels on household surfaces were similar to those found in the homes of active smokers. 

In a second case, a person with a lifelong one-pack per day habit successfully quit. More than five years later, thirdhand smoke levels on their household furniture were at amounts commonly found in homes of active smokers.

In a recent study, thirdhand smoke was found in every apartment tested (220) with smoke-free tenants living in smoke-free apartments. Of those tested, about 10% had thirdhand smoke levels on surfaces that were similar to amounts found in apartments where people actively smoked indoors. Toxic thirdhand smoke residue is widespread and persistent. Although it can be challenging to remove existing thirdhand smoke, guidance is available below.

To prevent the accumulation of thirdhand smoke in your home, do not allow anyone to smoke in or around you, your home, or your vehicle.

Updated: August 2022

Sources:

Matt GE, Quintana Penelope, Hoh Eunha, Zakarian Joy, Dodder Nathan G., Record Rachael A., Hovell Melbourne, Mahabee-Gittens Melinda, Padilla Samuel, Markman Laura, Watanabe Kayo, Novotny Thomas, Persistent tobacco smoke residue in multiunit housing: Legacy of permissive indoor smoking policies and challenges in the implementation of smoking bans, Preventive Medicine Reports, Volume 18, 2020, 101088, ISSN 2211-3355, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2020.101088.

Matt GE, Quintana Penelope J.E., Hoh Eunha, Zakarian Joy M., Dodder Nathan G, Record Rachael A., Hovell Melbourne F., Mahabee-Gittens Melinda, Padilla Samuel, Markman Laura, Watanabe Kayo, Novotny Thomas, Persistent tobacco smoke residue in multiunit housing: Legacy of permissive indoor smoking policies and challenges in the implementation of smoking bans, Preventive Medicine Reports, Volume 18, 2020, 101088, ISSN 2211-3355, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2020.101088.

Matt, GE, Quintana Penelope J. E., Hovell Melbourne, Chatfield Dale, Ma Debbie, Romero Romina, Uribe Anna, Residual tobacco smoke pollution in used cars for sale: Air, dust, and surfaces, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, Volume 10, Issue 9, September 2008, Pages 1467–1475, https://doi.org/10.1080/14622200802279898.

Matt GE, Quintana PJE, Zakarian JM, Fortmann A, Chatfield D, Hoh E, Uribe A, Hovell M. When smokers move out and non-smokers move in: residential thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure, Tobacco Control, 2011;20:el, http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/tc.2010.037382.

Matt GE, Quintana PJE, Zakarian JM, Hoh E, Hovell M, Mahabee-Gittens M, Watanabe K, Datuin K, Vue C, Chatfield D. When smokers quit: exposure to nicotine and carcinogens persists from thirdhand smoke pollution, Tobacco Control, 2017;26:548-556, http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2016-053119.

How can I protect my child from thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

Babies and young children are at the greatest risk of exposure to thirdhand smoke. Here are some simple steps you can take to minimize exposure in your home and car:

In the home: 

Make sure all your child’s indoor environments are 100% smokefree.

  • That means no smoking cigarettes, pipes, cigars, electronic cigarettes, or marijuana at any time inside your home or anywhere else your child spends time. This includes homes of friends and family, hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues, and playgrounds.
  • Remember that smoke can drift into your home, so don’t allow anyone to smoke outside near doors, windows, or ventilation systems.
  • When renting an apartment or buying a new home, ask questions about tobacco, e-cigarette, and marijuana use by previous residents. Include what you learn in your overall decision process.
  • Before buying something used, such as furniture or clothing, ask about tobacco, e-cigarette, and marijuana use by previous owners. If you can’t find out, factor that into your decision to purchase.

Make sure adults who spend time with your child are 100% smokefree, especially childcare workers. 

  • When people smoke, thirdhand smoke residue sticks to their clothes, hands, face, body, and hair.
  • Ask anyone who smokes to wash their hands, shower, and change into clean clothes before coming in contact with your child.  

It can be very difficult to remove thirdhand smoke from indoor environments, especially if the smoking took place for a long period of time. Depending on the size of the reservoir of pollutants, complete renovation may be required. If you cannot avoid your child spending time in a home that may contain thirdhand smoke, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your child’s exposure.

Tips for reducing your child’s exposure if you believe that an indoor environment is polluted with thirdhand smoke.

  • People who smoke can carry tobacco residue into your home on their skin, hair, and clothes, even if they always smoke outside. Encourage them to shower and change into clean clothes when coming inside after smoking.
  • If you have items that came from a smoker’s home, especially clothes, toys, rugs, or blankets, thoroughly wash them or consider discarding them. 
  • You may be able to reduce thirdhand smoke in your home by (1) opening windows to air out rooms each week, (2) regularly wiping surfaces with a diluted white vinegar solution, (3) frequent dusting, and (4) weekly vacuuming with a HEPA filter.
  • Regularly washing your child’s blankets, bedding, and toys.

In the car: 

Make sure your child travels in 100% smokefree cars. 

  • Don’t allow any smoking in your car at any time, and don’t let your child ride with anyone who does allow smoking in their car. 
  • If you are buying a used car, be sure to ask about smoking by previous owners. Thirdhand smoke is nearly impossible to remove from automobiles.

Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to remove thirdhand smoke once it has become embedded in a car. Even aggressive cleaning will not rid the car of toxic chemicals. Young children are particularly at risk of exposure. If you cannot avoid your child riding in a car that may contain thirdhand smoke, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your child’s exposure. 

Tips for reducing your child’s exposure if you believe that a car is polluted with toxic thirdhand smoke:

  • When your child is in a car polluted with thirdhand smoke, turn on the air-conditioning using the “outside air mode.” Make sure you do not simply recirculate the air in your car; this is sometimes the default setting in a car. By bringing outside air into the car using air-conditioning, you will reduce the concentration of thirdhand smoke pollutants in the air of the car.
  • Do not leave the car seat in the car. Put your child’s car seat in the car only when your child will be using it. The less time the car seat is in the car, the less time it will be exposed to toxic thirdhand smoke.
  • Before you put the car seat in the car, put a clean towel under the car seat. The towel will act as a physical barrier between the car’s upholstery, which contains thirdhand smoke pollutants, and the clean car seat.
  • When you are finished using the car seat, remove it and the towel. Wipe the car seat with a solution of diluted vinegar and water and throw the towel into the laundry.
  • As much as possible, limit the amount of time your child is in the car.
  • Because children can absorb thirdhand smoke through their skin, it is a good idea to wash your child’s hands and face when the car ride is completed.

The best way to protect your child from thirdhand smoke exposure in a car is to (1) never ride in cars that have been smoked in, (2) never let anyone smoke in your car, and (3) always ask for a non-smoking rental car—if you smell tobacco odor in the rental car, ask for another.

Updated: September 2022

Sources:

Fortmann, A. L., R. A. Romero, M. Sklar, V. Pham, J. Zakarian, P. J. Quintana, D. Chatfield and G. E. Matt (2010). Residual tobacco smoke in used cars: futile efforts and persistent pollutants. Nicotine Tob Res 12(10): 1029-1036.

Jacob III P, Benowitz NL, Destaillats H, Gundel L, Hang B, Martins-Green M, Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Samet JM, Schick SF, Talbot P. Thirdhand smoke: new evidence, challenges, and future directions. Chemical research in toxicology. 2017 Jan 17;30(1):270-94.

Kassem NO, Daffa RM, Liles S, Jackson SR, Kassem NO, Younis MA, Mehta S, Chen M, Jacob P 3rd, Carmella SG, Chatfield DA, Benowitz NL, Matt GE, Hecht SS, Hovell MF. Children’s exposure to secondhand and thirdhand smoke carcinogens and toxicants in homes of hookah smokers. Nicotine Tob Res. 2014 Jul;16(7):961-75. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntu016. Epub 2014 Mar 3.

Kelley ST, Liu W, Quintana PJE, Hoh E, Dodder NG, Mahabee-Gittens EM, Padilla S, Ogden S, Frenzel S, Sisk-Hackworth L, Matt GE. Altered microbiomes in thirdhand smoke-exposed children and their home environments. Pediatr Res. 2021. Epub 2021/03/04. doi: 10.1038/s41390-021-01400-1. PubMed PMID: 33654287.

Mahabee-Gittens EM, Merianos AL, Hoh E, Quintana PJE, Matt GE. Nicotine on children’s hands: limited protection of smoking bans and initial clinical findings. Tob Use Insights. 2019;12:1-6. PMID: 30728727; PMCID: PMC6351963.

Mahabee-Gittens EM, Merianos AL, Jandarov RA, Quintana PJE, Hoh E, Matt GE. Differential associations of hand nicotine and urinary cotinine with children’s exposure to tobacco smoke and clinical outcomes. Environ Res. 2021;202:111722. Epub 2021/07/24. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111722. PubMed PMID: 34297932.

Matt GE, Fortmann AL, Quintana PJ, Zakarian JM, Romero RA, Chatfield DA, Hoh E, Hovell MF. Towards smoke-free rental cars: an evaluation of voluntary smoking restrictions in California. Tobacco control. 2013 May 1;22(3):201-7.

Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Hovell MF, Bernert JT, Song S, Novianti N, Juarez T, Floro J, Gehrman C, Garcia M, Larson S. Households contaminated by environmental tobacco smoke: sources of infant exposures. Tob Control. 2004 Mar;13(1):29-37. PubMed PMID:14985592.

Matt GE, P. J. Quintana, M. F. Hovell, D. Chatfield, D. S. Ma, R. Romero and A. Uribe (2008). Residual tobacco smoke pollution in used cars for sale: air, dust, and surfaces. Nicotine Tob Res 10(9): 1467-1475.

Northrup TF, Matt GE, Hovell MF, Khan AM, Stotts AL. (2015).  Thirdhand smoke in the homes of medically fragile children: Assessing the impact of indoor smoking levels and smoking bans. Nicotine Tob Res.2016;18(5):1290-8. Epub: 2015 Aug 26. doi:10.1093/ntr/ntv174. PubMed PMID:26315474.

Northrup TF, Stotts AL, Suchting R, Matt GE, Quintana PJE, Khan AM, Green C, Klawans MR, Johnson M, Benowitz N, Jacob P, Hoh E, Hovell MF, Stewart CJ. Thirdhand smoke associations with the gut microbiomes of infants admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit: An observational study. Environ Res. 2021;197:111180. Epub 2021/04/19. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111180. PubMed PMID: 33865820; PMCID: PMC8187318.

If someone smokes outside, do they bring thirdhand smoke with them when they enter a home or car?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

When someone who smokes outside enters a car or home, they bring thirdhand smoke with them. Often, they will smell like tobacco smoke. But even if they don’t, thirdhand smoke is still carried on their clothes, skin, hair, and even in the breath they exhale. We smell tobacco smoke when the thirdhand smoke chemicals are released into the air, a process known as off-gassing. Some of these chemicals in the air are recognized by the odor receptors in our noses, and our brains tells us that this is the unpleasant smell of stale tobacco smoke.

Once this tobacco residue is brought inside, the effects are similar to when someone smokes a cigarette inside the car or home. The gases and particles in the tobacco residue on the smoker’s hands, clothes, skin, and hair can be transferred, stick to, and ultimately become embedded in materials and objects. In your home, these include carpets, walls, furniture, blankets, and toys. In your car, these include the seat covers, steering wheel, floor mats, and ceiling liner. The gases and particles can also be released into the air and accumulate in dust. As a result, people and pets may be exposed to toxic thirdhand smoke, even though no cigarettes were smoked inside your car or home.

To keep toxic tobacco residue out of your home, tell family members and friends about thirdhand smoke and help them adopt these strategies:

  • Remove clothes worn while smoking before entering the home. Leave them outside on a porch or patio until they can be washed.
  • Wash clothes worn while smoking every day to avoid release of toxic compounds into the air.
  • Always wash your hands and face very carefully after smoking
  • Whenever possible, shower immediately upon entering the home after smoking to remove tobacco smoke residue from hair and skin. If showering is not possible, thoroughly wash hands and face. 

To protect your health and the health of passengers in your car, ask someone who recently smoked to adopt these strategies before getting into your car:

  • Wash their hands and face to remove tobacco residue from their skin.
  • Change into a clean shirt.

Be sure to thank them for helping to protect you and your loved ones from toxic thirdhand smoke.

Updated: September 2022

Sources:

Fortmann A L, Romero RA, Sklar RA, Pham V, Zakarian J, Quintana JP, Chatfield D, Matt GE. Residual tobacco smoke in used cars: futile efforts and persistent pollutants. Nicotine Tob Res. 2010;12(10):1029-36.

Licina D, Morrison GC, Bekö  G, Weshler CJ, Nazaroff W. Clothing-mediated exposures to chemicals and particles. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2019; 53(10):5559-5575.

Matt G E, Romero R, Ma DS, Quintana JP, Hovell MF, Donohue M, Messer K, Salem S, Aguilar M, Boland J, Cullimore J, Crane M, Junker J, Tassainario P, Timmermann V, Wong K, Chatfield D. Tobacco use and asking prices of used cars: Prevalence, costs, and new opportunities for changing smoking behavior. Tob Induc Dis. 2008; Jul 31; 4(1):2. doi: 10.1186/1617-9625-4-2. 

Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Hovell MF, Chatfield D, Ma DS, Romero R, Uribe A. Residual tobacco smoke pollution in used cars for sale: air, dust, and surfaces. Nicotine Tob Res. 2008;10(9):1467-75. doi: 10.1080/14622200802279898. 

Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Zakarian JM, Fortmann AL, Chatfield DA, Hoh E, Uribe AM, Hovell MF. When smokers move out and non-smokers move in: Residential thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure. Tob Control. 2011; 20(1):e1.

Northrup TF, Stotts AL, Suchting R, et al. Thirdhand Smoke Contamination and Infant Nicotine Exposure in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: An Observational Study. Nicotine Tob Res. 2021;23(2):373-382.

Sheu R, Stönner C, Ditto J, Klüpfel T, Williams J, Gentner D. Human transport of thirdhand tobacco smoke: A prominent source of hazardous air pollutants into indoor nonsmoking environments. Science Advances. 2020; 6(10):eaay4109.

Quintana PJ, Matt GE, Chatfield D, Zakarian JM, Fortmann AL, Hoh E. Wipe sampling for nicotine as a marker of thirdhand tobacco smoke contamination on surfaces in homes, cars, and hotels. Nicotine Tob Res. 2013;15(9):1555-63. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntt014.

Who is most likely to be exposed to thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

 

Infants and young children are the most likely to be exposed to thirdhand smoke for these three reasons:

 

1. Time Indoors:


Infants and young children spend more time on average indoors than adults. Human activity surveys have shown that infants spend 90% of their time indoors at home. If these environments are polluted with thirdhand smoke, infants are at a higher risk of exposure.

2. Behavior:


Infants and young children explore their environment with their hands and bodies. Before they can walk, they move around by crawling along the floor–picking up dust and particles along the way. Their small size lets them fit into tight spaces where dust and particles might collect. Through crawling and exploring their environment, their hands, mouths, hair, clothes, and toys can collect thirdhand smoke. It can enter their bodies not just through their skin, but also through their lungs and mouths.


Children and infants put many objects into their mouths: their own hands, toys, blankets, their parents’ fingers, or a car seat strap. Just about anything they discover goes into their mouths, including everyday objects parents may use to distract a child, such as a cell phone, car keys, or the TV remote. The surfaces of objects can be contaminated with toxic thirdhand smoke in the air or dust, and when children put them in their mouths, thirdhand smoke chemicals enter their bodies.

 

3. Growth and Development


The respiratory systems of infants and young children are developing, and they breathe more times each minute than an adult does. This increased respiratory rate means that in relation to their size, they can breathe in more thirdhand smoke than adults can. Additionally, their organ systems are immature and growing—this includes their skin. The skin of an infant or child is thinner than the skin of adults, making them more susceptible to exposure from thirdhand smoke by dermal absorption. Their immune systems are also developing, making them more vulnerable to the effects of tobacco pollutants than adults.

 

Do you have more questions about the toxic legacy of tobacco smoke, how it affects human health, and what we can do about it? Learn more here.

 

Updated: October 2022

 

Sources:


Breunis, L. J., Versteylen, M., Radó, M. K., Dereci, N., Boderie, N. W., de Kroon, M. L. A., Been, J. V. (2022). Pediatric patients’ views regarding smoke-free hospital grounds compared to those of adults: A survey study. Tobacco Prevention & Cessation, 8 Feb, https://doi.org/10.18332/tpc/145311.


He, L., Zhou, Y.-X., Zhang, Y., Hang, B., Chang, H., Schick, S.F., Celniker, S.E., Xia, Y., Snijders, A.M. and Mao, J.-H. (2021), Thirdhand cigarette smoke leads to age-dependent and persistent alterations in the cecal microbiome of mice. MicrobiologyOpen, 10: e1198. https://doi.org/10.1002/mbo3.1198.

Kelley ST, Liu W, Quintana PJE, Hoh E, Dodder NG, Mahabee-Gittens EM, Padilla S, Ogden S, Frenzel S, Sisk-Hackworth L, Matt GE. Altered microbiomes in thirdhand smoke-exposed children and their home environments. Pediatr Res. 2021 Dec;90(6):1153-1160. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41390-021-01400-1.

 

Mahabee-Gittens EM, Merianos AL, Jandarov RA, Quintana PJE, Hoh E, Matt GE, Differential associations of hand nicotine and urinary cotinine with children's exposure to tobacco smoke and clinical outcomes, Environmental Research. 2021. 202:111722. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2021.111722.


Mahabee-Gittens EM, Merianos AL, Matt GE. Preliminary evidence that high levels of nicotine on children’s hands may contribute to overall tobacco smoke exposure. Tob Control. 2018;27(2):217-219. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2016-053602.


Mahabee-Gittens EM, Merianos AL, Quintana PJE, Hoh E, Matt GE. Nicotine on children’s hands: Limited protection of smoking bans and initial clinical findings. Tob Use Insights. 2019;12:1-6. doi:10.1177/1179173X18823493.


Mahabee-Gittens EM, Merianos AL, Stone L, Wullenweber CA, Quintana PJE, Hoh E, Dodder NG, Lopez-Galvez N, Matt GE, Hand nicotine as an independent marker of thirdhand smoke pollution in children's environments, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 849, 2022, 157914, ISSN 0048-9697, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.157914.


Matt GE, Quintana PJE, Hovell MF, Bernert JT, Song S, Novianti N, Juarez T, Floro J, Gehrman C, Garcia M, Larson S. Households contaminated by environmental tobacco smoke: sources of infant exposures. Tobacco Control. 2004;13:29–37. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/tc.2003.003889.

Merianos AL, Jandarov RA, Gordon JS, Lyons MS, Mahabee-Gittens EM (2021) Healthcare resources attributable to child tobacco smoke exposure. PLOS ONE 16(2): e0247179. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0247179.

 

Merianos AL, Mahabee-Gittens EM, Choi K, Tobacco smoke exposure and inadequate sleep among U.S. school-aged children, Sleep Medicine, Volume 86, 2021, Pages 99-105, ISSN 1389-9457, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2021.08.012.


Northrup TF, Khan AM, Jacob P, Benowitz NL, Hoh E, Hovell MF, Matt GE, Stotts AL. Thirdhand smoke contamination in hospital settings: Assessing exposure risk for vulnerable pediatric patients. Tob Control. 2016;25: 619-623. Epub: 2015 Dec 3. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2015-052506.


Parks, J., McLean, K.E., McCandless, L. et al. Assessing secondhand and thirdhand tobacco smoke exposure in Canadian infants using questionnaires, biomarkers, and machine learning. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 32, 112–123 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-021-00350-4.

What are the advantages of making my rental properties smokefree?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

Much of the public knows that secondhand smoke is bad for your health. Smokefree rental properties are in high demand. Surveys show that most renters prefer 100% smokefree properties. 

Smokefree rental properties save money:

  • Reduce the risk of tobacco-related fires in your apartments.
  • Lower fire and liability insurance premiums for the property.
  • Avoid the need for expensive smoking-related repairs when tenants move out.
  • Reduce litter from tobacco waste, such as cigarette butts.
  • Fewer complaints about unpleasant odors and unhealthy air because of smoke intrusion.
  • Lower administrative costs to address


Smokefree rental properties save lives and protect the health of you:

  • Secondhand smoke drifts into apartments from other apartments or from outside.
  • In children, secondhand smoke causes diseases like asthma, ear infections, and colds.
  • In adults, secondhand smoke causes lung disease, heart disease, and cancer.
  • Thirdhand smoke embeds into walls and on surfaces, emitting toxic compounds long after secondhand smoke has disappeared.
  • After a smoker moves out, the toxic residue of thirdhand smoke remains, creating a health hazard for new tenants.


Save money, save lives. Make your property smokefree.

Do you have more questions about the toxic legacy of tobacco smoke, how it affects human health, and what we can do about it? Learn more here.

Updated: November 2022

Sources:

American Lung Association. Smokefree housing: Renter poll. Retrieved January 10, 2020 from https://center4tobaccopolicy.org/tobacco-policy/smokefree-multi-unit-housing/smokefree-housing-renter-poll/

King BA, Babb SD, Tynan MA, Gerzoff MS. National and state estimates of secondhand smoke infiltration among U.S. multiunit housing residents. Nicotine Tob Res. 2013;15(7):1316-1321.  

Licht AS, King BA, Travers MJ, Rivard C, Hyland AJ. Attitudes, experiences, and acceptance of smoke-free policies among US multiunit housing residents. AJPH. 2012;102(10): 1868-1871.

Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Zakarian JM, Fortmann AL, Chatfield DA, Hoh E, Uribe AM, Hovell MF. When smokers move out and non-smokers move in: residential thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure. Tob Control. 2011;20(1):e1.

Ong MK, Diamant AL, Zhou Q, Park H-Y, Kaplan R. Estimates of smoking-related property costs in California multiunit housing. AJPH. 2012;102(3):490-493.

Toy P, Yount C, Meng Y, Zou W, Ventura J, Do H, Pourat N. Health at risk: Policies are needed to end cigarette, marijuana, and e-cigarette secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing in Los Angeles. National Library of Medicine. 2020.

What questions should I ask before signing my next apartment lease?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.


Before you sign the lease on an apartment, consider the following:

  • The definition of “smokefree” differs for each apartment complex. Sometimes, smokefree means that smoking is restricted is prohibited in some areas (e.g., common areas) but allowed in others (e.g., patio, apartment). Other times smoking may be banned everywhere on the property.  
  • “Smokefree” does not necessarily mean your new apartment is free of toxic thirdhand smoke residue. Thirdhand smoke can be left behind by a former resident, or by a neighbor who ignored the smoking policies.


Make sure you understand the smoking restrictions for the property selected. Ask the property manager “Where on the property is smoking allowed?”


The preferred answer to this question is, “We do not allow smoking of any product, including marijuana and electronic cigarettes, anywhere on the property. Residents must leave the property to smoke.”

The most common response is, “We restrict smoking and use of electronic cigarettes to specific areas.” 


Smoke travels easily through open windows, hallways, heating and cooling systems, and around pipes and electrical wiring. If people are allowed to smoke inside their apartment units, outside on their porches or balconies, or in common areas near buildings or stairwells, the smoke may find its way into your apartment.

Ask where people are allowed to smoke.

  • Is smoking allowed inside apartment units?
  • Is smoking allowed outside apartment units, on balconies, or on porches?
  • Is smoking allowed in common areas or parking lots?
  • Is there a designated smoking area? If so, is it more than 50 feet from any building?


In addition, you want to ask the property management the following:

  • How do tenants or visitors know about the smoking policy? Are there signs posted throughout the complex about a non-smoking policy, including the penalty for violating it?
  • What is the penalty for violating the smoking policy? Do you evict tenants who violate the smoking policy?
  • How do you handle tenants’ complaints about others smoking?


Once you are convinced that the smoking policies are enforced and that no smoking is tolerated on the premises, you still need to confirm that thirdhand smoke is not present in apartment units. If previous apartment residents smoked inside or outside of the apartment, toxic thirdhand smoke residue can remain for years after they move out. Make sure to ask the property manager:

  • Did the people who lived in this apartment smoke?


If the answer is “yes”, you should investigate more by asking:

  • How long did they live in the apartment?
  • What kind of cleaning or renovation was done to the unit after they moved out?


We recommend that you request a unit that was not previously occupied by someone who smoked. The longer a smoking tenant lives in the apartment unit, the more time there will be for thirdhand smoke residue to build up. It is important to find out how property management prepares and cleans apartments for new tenants. 

It is unlikely that standard cleaning and applying a coat of paint will remove thirdhand smoke if the smoking was heavy and occurred for a long time. Renovation to remove thirdhand smoke may need to include removal and replacement of carpeting, furniture, walls, ceilings, and ventilation systems.


We know it is challenging to find good housing. Many factors go into a final decision about where to live. Since there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke, we suggest avoiding a unit where a former smoker lived. We also suggest avoiding properties that allow smoking anywhere on the property and where there are few consequences for violating smoking policies.

Do you have more questions about the toxic legacy of tobacco smoke, how it affects human health, and what we can do about it? Learn more here.


Updated: November 2022


Sources


DeCarlo PF, Avery AM, Waring MS. Thirdhand smoke uptake to aerosol particles in the indoor environment. Sci Adv. 2018;9: 4(5): eaap8368. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aap8368.


Mahabee-Gittens EM, Merianos AL, Quintana PJE, Hoh E, Matt GE. (2019) Nicotine on children’s hands: Limited protection of smoking bans and initial clinical findings. Tob Use Insights. doi:10.1177/1179173X18823493.

Matt GE, Quintana PJE, Hoh E, Zakarian JM, Dodder NG, Record RA, Hovell MF, Mahabee-Gittens EM, Padilla S, Markman L, Watanabe K, Novotny TE. Remediating Thirdhand Smoke Pollution in Multiunit Housing: Temporary Reductions and the Challenges of Persistent Reservoirs. Nicotine Tob Res. 2021 Jan 22;23(2):364-372. doi:10.1093/ntr/ntaa151.

Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Zakarian JM, Fortmann AL, Chatfield DA, Hoh E, Uribe AM, Hovell MF. When smokers move out and non-smokers move in: residential thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure. Tob Control. 2011;20(1):e1.

Toy P, Yount C, Meng Y, Zou W, Ventura J, Do H, Pourat N. Health at risk: Policies are needed to end cigarette, marijuana, and e-cigarette secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing in Los Angeles. National Library of Medicine. 2020, https://collections.nlm.nih.gov/catalog/nlm:nlmuid-101773749-pdf.

Do electronic cigarettes create thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, do not burn tobacco. Instead, e-cigarettes heat a fluid that contains nicotine, a chemical solvent, and flavor chemicals. This heated fluid creates a vapor made up of tiny droplets that looks like cigarette smoke. Just like tobacco smoke, e-cigarette vapor sticks to clothes, furniture, and other surfaces creating thirdhand smoke.

Research has found nicotine residue from e-cigarettes on indoor surfaces days after vaping had stopped. Researchers have shown that children can pick up this nicotine on their hands. Nicotine on surfaces reacts with other chemicals in the air to produce new compounds that can cause cancer and worsen asthma.

In places where vaping is allowed, such as vape shops, the air quality is poor, exposing patrons and workers to toxic secondhand and thirdhand vapor. To prevent the build-up of e-cigarette residue in your home and car, do not allow anyone to vape in those spaces.

Do you have more questions about the toxic legacy of tobacco smoke, how it affects human health, and what we can do about it? Learn more here.

Updated: May 2023

Sources

Goniewicz, M. L., & Lee, L. (2015). Electronic cigarettes are a source of thirdhand exposure to nicotine. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 17(2), 256–258. https://doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntu152

Hua, M., Luo, M., Khachatoorian, C., McWhirter K.J., Leung, S., Martinez, T., Talbot, P. (2023). Exposure, Retention, Exhalation, Symptoms, and Environmental Accumulation of Chemicals During JUUL Vaping, Chem. Res. Toxicol. 36(3), 492–507, https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.chemrestox.2c00390

Khachatoorian, C., Jacob III, P., Benowitz, N. L., & Talbot, P. (2019). Electronic cigarette chemicals transfer from a vape shop to a nearby business in a multiple-tenant retail building. Tobacco Control, 28(5), 519–525. https://doi.org/10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2018-054316

Li, D., Shi, H., Xie, Z., Rahman, I., McIntosh, S., Bansal-Travers, M., Winickoff, J. P., Drehmer, J. E., & Ossip, D. J. (2020). Home smoking and vaping policies among US adults: Results from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (Path) study, wave 3. Preventive Medicine, 139, 106215. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2020.106215

Marcham, C. L., Floyd, E. L., Wood, B. L., Arnold, S., & Johnson, D. L. (2019). E-cigarette nicotine deposition and persistence on glass and cotton surfaces. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 16(5), 349–354. https://doi.org/10.1080/15459624.2019.1581366

Pozuelos, G. L., Rubin, M., Vargas, S., Ramirez, E., Bandaru, D., Sha, J., Wohlschlegel, J., & Talbot, P. (2022). Nicotine affects multiple biological processes in epiderm™ organotypic tissues and keratinocyte monolayers. Atmosphere, 13(5), 810. https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos13050810

Son, Y., Giovenco, D. P., Delnevo, C., Khlystov, A., Samburova, V., & Meng, Q. (2020). Indoor air quality and passive e-cigarette aerosol exposures in vape-shops. Nicotine & Tobacco Research: Official Journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco22(10), 1772–1779. https://doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntaa094

Can you test for thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

Tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemicals that break down and interact with the environment. Scientists have developed sensitive tests1 using those chemical markers that can detect thirdhand smoke chemicals in the air, in house dust, on surfaces of indoor environments, and on people. However, these tests are expensive to conduct and few are available outside of university laboratories available at this time.

EMSL produces a test kit for nicotine on surfaces, but this test is only sensitive enough to detect high levels of nicotine. A report of “no nicotine detected” from this test kit may give a false sense of security, as only the most polluted surfaces would be reported as having detectable levels of nicotine. According to the information on their website, the “reporting limit” is about 15 times higher (15 µg/m2) than typically found in the homes of nonsmokers with indoor smoking bans (1 µg/m2) as determined in San Diego homes).

Knowsmoke produces a test kit that is marketed to the automobile and rental car industry.  It is designed to measure nicotine in upholstery and carpeting. Little is currently known about its level of detection, reliability, or validity. Further study is needed to understand the implications of its test results.

The Home Air Check measures nicotine in the air. This test is not specific to thirdhand smoke, and a report of “detect” could come from secondhand smoke or thirdhand smoke. Its reported lower limit of detection is 1 ng/liter or 1 µg/m3. This detection limit is much too high to serve as a sensitive test for secondhand smoke or thirdhand smoke. 

For a test of thirdhand smoke to be useful to a nonsmoker who wants assurance that a home is free of tobacco smoke pollutants, a test must be significantly more sensitive than what is currently commercially available. In addition, we need to be able to compare test results to reference settings with a known smoking history to evaluate whether measured thirdhand smoke levels are consistent with smoke free nonsmoker spaces. At the Thirdhand Smoke Resource Center, we are currently developing tests that are more sensitive to detecting thirdhand smoke. If you are in urgent need of a test, we recommend reaching out to us and sharing your concerns: contact@thirdhandsmoke.org.

Several chemical markers are used to measure thirdhand smoke: nicotine (a compound that increases the risk of cardiovascular, respiratory, and gastrointestinal disorders), tobacco specific nitrosamines (powerful carcinogens produced when tobacco burns), and nicotelline (a byproduct of nicotine that is easier to measure).

Updated: July 2022

Sources:

Aquilina NJ, Havel CM, Cheung P, Harrison RM, Ho KF, Benowitz NL, Jacob P III. Ubiquitous atmospheric contamination by tobacco smoke: nicotine and a new marker for tobacco smoke-derived particulate matter, nicotelline. Env Int. 2021; vol 150. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2021.106417.

EMSL Analytical, Inc. Nicotine Smoke Contamination Test Kit. Nicotine Data Sheet. 

Home Air Check. Tobacco Smoke Check. https://www.homeaircheck.com/product/tobacco-smoke-test/

Knowsmoke, Knowsmoke Test Kit. https://www.knowsmoke.com/product/knowsmoke-test-kit/

Matt GE, Quintana PJE, Hoh E, et al. A Casino goes smoke free: a longitudinal study of secondhand and thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure. Tob Control. 2018;27(6):643-649.

Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Zakarian JM, Fortmann AL, Chatfield DA, Hoh E, Uribe AM, Hovell MF. When smokers move out and non-smokers move in: residential thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure. Tob Control. 2011;20(1):e1. doi:10.1136/tc.2010.037382.

Quintana PJ, Matt GE, Chatfield D, Zakarian JM, Fortmann AL, Hoh E. Wipe sampling for nicotine as a marker of thirdhand tobacco smoke contamination on surfaces in homes, cars, and hotels. Nicotine Tob Res. 2013;15(9):1555-1563.

What should I ask before renting a car?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

You need to rent a car. Whether for business or pleasure, a little bit of research and a few simple steps can maximize your chances of a ride 100% free of tobacco smoke pollutants.

Before reserving your car:

  1. Choose a rental car company that advertises non-smoking vehicles. Better yet, choose a rental car company with a no smoking policy for all of their vehicles.
  2. Read the non-smoking policy to make sure it includes electronic cigarettes.
  3. Make sure the fine for violating the policy is enough to make someone think twice before lighting up in the car.
  4. Specify on your reservation that you will only accept a non-smoking vehicle.

At the rental counter:

  1. Verbally confirm that you want a smokefree car (even if the company has a no smoking policy).
  2. Request a car that has low mileage (fewer drivers mean fewer opportunities for smoking to have occurred).

Before you drive out of the rental car lot:

  1. Be sure the car is designated in some way as “non-smoking”, such as a sticker on the car window (reminders inside the vehicle reduce chances a previous renter smoked inside the car).
  2. Look for evidence of tobacco use (litter, burn marks, cloudy windows inside, odor of tobacco).
  3. If you are not convinced the vehicle is non-smoking, request another vehicle.

When you return the vehicle:

  1. Reinforce the rental company’s good choices (thank the management and staff for providing non-smoking vehicles).
  2. Post a positive review about your smokefree ride and share it on social media.


Do you have more questions about the toxic legacy of tobacco smoke, how it affects human health, and what we can do about it? Learn more here.

Updated June 2022

Sources:

Matt GE, Fortmann AL, Quintana PJ, Zakarian JM, Romero RA, Chatfield DA, Hoh E, & Hovell MF. Towards smoke-free rental cars: An evaluation of voluntary smoking restrictions in California. Tob Control. 2013: 22(3):201-7.

Matt GE, Quintana JP, Hovell MF, Chatfield D, Ma DS, Romero R, & Uribe A. Residual tobacco smoke pollution in used cars for sale: Air, dust, and surfaces. Nicotine Tob Res. 2008;10(9):1467-1475. doi: 10.1080/14622200802279898

Can thirdhand smoke hurt my pet?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

The harmful effects of second- and thirdhand smoke exposure on people are widely known, but the same effects can apply to cats, dogs, and even birds and fish!  Most pet owners protect their pets from tobacco smoke because they know that as they breathe in secondhand smoke in the air, they inhale hundreds of carcinogenic toxic chemicals.

Cats and Dogs

If your cat or dog spends a lot of time indoors in an environment that contains thirdhand smoke, they may be exposed to the chemicals in thirdhand smoke. If pets sleep or play on floors or furniture polluted with thirdhand smoke, the residue can be transferred onto their fur. If pets snuggle with humans who smoke, tobacco residue may be transferred onto their fur from clothing or skin. Cats and dogs can inhale thirdhand smoke chemicals that off-gas from carpets, furniture, blankets, and other polluted surfaces. 

Cats are at increased risk for ingesting thirdhand smoke because of their grooming habits. Cats frequently lick their fur to clean and maintain their coat. In the process, they ingest any thirdhand smoke residue that has accumulated on their fur.

A recent study examined the fur of cats who lived with non-smokers and smokers (indoor and outdoor smokers). The study determined that cats with more exposure to second- and thirdhand tobacco smoke in their homes had an increased amount of hair nicotine concentration compared to cats with less exposure. The nicotine levels in the cat’s hair increased with the number of cigarettes the owners smoked each day—the more cigarettes smoked, the higher the nicotine level in the cat’s hair. The location where the owners smoked also mattered. Cats whose owners smoked inside the home had higher levels of nicotine in their hair than cats whose owners smoked outside or not at all. Other studies have shown that tobacco smoke toxicants increase the risk of cancer in cats.

Dogs can absorb tobacco smoke residue through their skin, and they can ingest it by licking it off their fur, toys, and the hands of someone who smoked. In indoor environments, dogs can inhale contaminated house dust or ultra-fine particles and gases that are released back into the air. Like humans, inhaling ultra-fine particles can make a dog’s breathing problems worse.

A dog’s breed influences the health effects of tobacco smoke exposure. A dog’s nose acts like a filter. Dogs with shorter noses have a smaller “filter,” so toxic particles are not stopped in the nose and get into the lungs, where they can cause harm. Dogs with longer noses have a larger “filter,” so more of the toxic particles are stopped before they get to the lungs. However, the particles can get stuck in the nose and sinuses, where they can cause harm. 

But what about other household pets?

Birds and Fish

Birds and fish also need protection from thirdhand smoke. Just like humans, birds can be exposed to the particles and gasses of thirdhand smoke through breathing, eating, and touching the toxic residue left behind by tobacco smoke. Birds are sensitive to air pollution. Birds can develop breathing problems, such as allergies, pneumonia, and sinus irritation, when they are exposed to air polluted by tobacco smoke.


Birds can accidentally eat thirdhand smoke residue. Birds like to “preen” themselves. If their feathers have been coated with thirdhand smoke, they will ingest it as they groom. If they perch on the clothes or skin of someone who has smoked, they can absorb thirdhand smoke through their feet or ingest it as they preen someone’s hair. Along with a variety of health problems, birds exposed to tobacco smoke can develop feather plucking, a condition that is very difficult to treat.

Thirdhand smoke can hurt your fish, too. Because nicotine is toxic to fish and easily dissolves in water, it can contaminate the tank and poison the fish. If your fish are exposed to nicotine, they may get muscle spasms, rigid fins, lose their color, or die.

The best way to protect your pet from thirdhand smoke is to ban smoking inside your home. If you smoke, do your best to stop (support is available at 1-800-QUITNOW, and 1-800-300-8086 at Kick It CA), and enforce a smoking ban in your home. The best way to avoid second- and thirdhand smoke exposure is to not smoke at all. However, if you or a visitor do smoke, it should be done outside away from the house. When returning inside after smoking, immediately wash your hands and change your clothing.


Your pet cannot make a choice to avoid second- or thirdhand smoke, but you can! Take these simple steps:

  • Do not let anyone smoke around your pet (inside or outside).
  • Do not let anyone bring thirdhand smoke into your pet’s home.
  • Do not move your pet into a new home that contains thirdhand smoke. Before moving into a new home, ask about smoking policies and habits of previous residents. 


Updated March 2023

Sources:

Bertone-Johnson, E. R., Procter-Gray, E., Gollenberg, A. L., et al. (2008) Environmental tobacco smoke and canine urinary cotinine level. Environmental Research 106, 361-364


Iosr J., Sandhya K., & Patil S. Toxic effect of Cigarette Smoke on Vital organs of Aquarium fish Carassius auratus.

Matt GE, Hoh E, Quintana PJE, Zakarian JM, Arceo J. Cotton pillows: A novel field method for assessment of thirdhand smoke pollution. Environ Res. 2019;168:206-10. Epub 2018/10/15. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.09.025.

Picket, L. (2021). Secondhand smoke causes cancer in cats. 2021. https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2021/jan/04/secondhand-smoke-causes-cancer-in-cats/

Reif JS, Bruns C, and Lower KS. Cancer of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in pet dogs. Am J. Epidemiology.1998; 147(5): 488-492.

Roza MR, Viegas CA. The dog as passive smoker: effects of exposure to environmental cigarette smoke on domestic dogs. Nicotine Tob Res. 2007; 9(11): 1171-1176.

Slaughter E, Gersberg RM, Watanabe K, et al Toxicity of cigarette butts, and their chemical components, to marine and freshwater fish Tobacco Control 2011;20:i25-i29.

Smith, V. A., McBrearty, A. R., Watson, D. G., Mellor, D. J., Spence, S., & Knottenbelt, C. (2017). Hair nicotine concentration measurement in cats and its relationship to owner-reported environmental tobacco smoke exposure. The Journal of small animal practice, 58(1), 3–9.

Snyder, L. A., Bertone, E. R., Jakowski, M. S., et al. (2004) p53 expression and environmental tobacco smoke exposure in feline oral squamous cell carcinoma. Veterinary Pathology 41, 209-214.

US Food and Drug Administration. Second and (thirdhand) smoke may be making your pet sick. 2016. Retrieved 03/22/2020 from: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/secondhand-and-third-hand-smoke-may-be-making-your-pet-sick

Does cannabis create thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue left behind by secondhand smoke that can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, fabrics, and building materials, turning them into reservoirs of pollutants. Also known as “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke”, the mixture of pollutants in thirdhand smoke is toxic to humans, especially children.

Scientists have just started to study the smoke from cannabis. The studies show that cannabis smoke has some of the same cancer-causing chemicals as tobacco smoke. Cannabis smoke leaves behind thirdhand smoke residue that is like the residue from tobacco smoke.

Just like vaping nicotine creates thirdhand smoke, vaping cannabis creates thirdhand smoke too. The active ingredient in cannabis that produces the “high” accumulates on surfaces in rooms where cannabis has been vaped. Although exposure to cannabis-related thirdhand smoke residue will not get someone “high”, the cannabis residue can accumulate on surfaces, collect in dust, and soak into materials.

Do you have more questions about the toxic legacy of tobacco smoke, how it affects human health, and what we can do about it? Learn more here.

Updated: November 2022

Sources:

Huang, A. S., Murphy, M. B. C., Jacob, P., & Schick, S. F. PM2.5 concentrations in the smoking lounge of a cannabis store. Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 2022; 9(6), 551–556. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.estlett.2c00148

Moir D, Rickert WS, Levasseur G, Larose Y, Maertens R, White P, Desjardins S. A comparison of mainstream and sidestream marijuana and tobacco cigarette smoke produced under two machine smoking conditions. Chem Res Toxicol. 2008; 21(2):494-502.

Sempio C, Lindley E, Klawitter J, Christians U, Bowler RP, Adgate JL, Allshouse W, Awdziejczyk L, Fischer S, Bainbridge J, Vandyke M, Netsanet R, Crume T, Kinney GL. Surface detection of THC attributable to vaporizer use in the indoor environment. Sci Rep. 2019; 9(1):18587. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-55151-5.

Yeh, K., Li, L., Wania, F., & Abbatt, J. P. D. Thirdhand smoke from tobacco, e-cigarettes, cannabis, methamphetamine and cocaine: Partitioning, reactive fate, and human exposure in indoor environments. Environment International, 2022; 160, 107063. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.107063

What policies protect me from thirdhand smoke in my workplace?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. Thirdhand smoke can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

 

Federal laws protect everyone from secondhand smoke exposure on airplanes and in federal buildings. There are no federal laws that protect workers in the workplace. Workplace smoking bans are put in place by employers or result from state and local laws. Some states have total workplace smoking bans, while others have partial or no bans. Employers may ban smoking in the workplace, even in states that do not have any bans. Smoking bans in the workplace protect workers from secondhand smoke and the build-up of thirdhand smoke. Smoking bans do not protect against thirdhand smoke that is already there.

 

In California and 27 other states in the United States, employers may not discriminate against employees for legal activities outside the workplace, like smoking. An employer in these states cannot refuse to hire someone because they smoke unless being a nonsmoker is a job requirement. For example, a medical office could choose to hire only nonsmokers to protect their patients from thirdhand smoke. But even in states where employers can refuse to hire smokers, very few employers do. One exception is Alaska Airlines, which has required all employees to be nonsmokers since 1985. More recently, U-Haul announced in February 2020 that they would require all new employees to be nonsmokers and non-users of nicotine products. Nationwide, an increasing number of large hospital systems are adopting this hiring practice, with about 20% of hospitals in the US refusing to hire smokers. The World Health Organization has also adopted this policy.  These hiring policies protect all workers, patients, clients, and customers from thirdhand smoke exposure, and encourage tobacco cessation among people who do smoke.

 

Employees can ask for protection from tobacco smoke exposure. Protections include separating smokers and nonsmokers into different areas and improving ventilation systems. These legal protections were developed to protect against secondhand smoke exposure and may not offer much protection from thirdhand smoke exposure.

 

If you are concerned about thirdhand smoke exposure at work, we encourage you to educate co-workers and supervisors about thirdhand smoke. We also recommend reviewing your state and employer’s policies for secondhand smoke exposure. Protection from thirdhand smoke is essential if you have a precondition that puts you at greater risk, such as asthma, or if you are pregnant. Working with colleagues at your workplace and organizations such as your local American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, and resources like us (contact@thirdhandsmoke.org) can help. In California, your local Tobacco Control Coalition and your local Health Department can also provide you with important resources. Consider citing the ADA Act when proposing changes in workplace accommodations regarding tobacco smoke exposure.

Updated April 2023

Sources:

 

National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH). Tobacco Smoking. 2016. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/tobacco/tobaccosmoking.html

 

Patell R, Schmidt H. Should employers be permitted not to hire smokers? A review of US legal provisions. Int J Health PolicyManage. 2017;6(12):701-706U-Haul.

 

U-Haul to Implement Nicotine-Free Hiring Policy for Healthier Workforce. 2019. Retrieved

from: https://www.uhaul.com/Articles/About/19926/U-Haul-To-Implement-Nicotine-Free-Hiring-Policy-For-Healthier-Workforce/

Do cigars cause thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. Thirdhand smoke can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

Cigar tobacco has similar chemicals as cigarette tobacco but in different proportions. Cigars have more nitrogen compounds, ammonia, and tar than cigarettes. These compounds produce cancer-causing substances called tobacco-specific nitrosamines.

Cigars make large quantities of secondhand smoke similar to the secondhand smoke from cigarettes.  Smoke from cigars creates toxic thirdhand smoke. Like cigarettes, cigar smoke residue can become embedded in surfaces, clothes, carpets, furniture, and walls and expose people to harmful chemicals.

Updated: April 2023

Sources:

Baker F, Ainsworth SR, Dye JT, Crammer C, Thun MJ, Hoffmann D, Repace JL, Henningfield JE, Slade J, Pinney J, Shanks T, Burns DM, Connolly GN, Shopland DR. Health risks associated with cigar smoking. JAMA. 2000;284:735-740. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/192974

Hoffman D, Hoffmann I. Chemistry and Toxicology. In Cigars: Health Effects and Trends. Monograph 9. National Cancer Institute. Retrieved 01/22/2020 from https://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/brp/tcrb/monographs/9/index.html

If nobody around me smokes, can I still be exposed to thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. Thirdhand smoke can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

You can still be exposed to thirdhand smoke if nobody around you smokes. After smoking stops, tobacco smoke residue can remain on surfaces and in dust for years. You can be exposed to thirdhand smoke when your skin comes in contact with a polluted surface. You can also breathe in thirdhand smoke chemicals and particles that off-gas.  You can also get exposed when you put objects polluted with thirdhand smoke in your mouth. Thirdhand smoke sticks to the clothes, skin, and hair of smokers.  When smokers move into a smokefree environment (e.g., workplace, elevator, hospital, airplane), they carry thirdhand smoke residue into that space. Thirdhand smoke can stick to nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke too.

Researchers found thirdhand smoke in homes with strict no-smoking rules. Researchers found thirdhand smoke in the homes of nonsmokers where smokers previously lived. Thirdhand smoke can be detected in non-smoking rooms at hotels that allow smoking only on the premises, and inside cars where drivers or passengers have smoked. Thirdhand smoke persists in environments frequented by smokers including cars and movie theatres with smoking bans. Surprisingly, scientists discovered thirdhand smoke in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and other high-risk hospital settings. Smokers or nonsmokers living with smokers that visited the facility left behind thirdhand smoke residue.

People’s previous behavior in an enclosed space can leave behind a toxic legacy that can expose others to thirdhand smoke, even if no one around them is smoking.

Do you have more questions about the toxic legacy of tobacco smoke, how it affects human health, and what we can do about it? Learn more here.

Updated: April 2023

Sources:

Matt GE, Quintana JP, Zakarian JM, Fortmann AL, Chatfield DA, Hoh E, … & Hovell MF. When smokers move out and non-smokers move in: Residential thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure. Tob Control. 2011;20(1):e1-e1. doi: 10.1136/tc.2010.037382 

Matt GE, Quintana JP, Hovell MF, Chatfield D, Ma DS, Romero R, & Uribe A. Residual tobacco smoke pollution in used cars for sale: Air, dust, and surfaces. Nicotine Tob Res. 2008; 10(9):1467-1475. doi: 10.1080/14622200802279898 

Matt GE, Quintana PJE, Hoh E, Zakarian JM, Dodder NG, Record RA, Hovell MF, Mahabee-Gittens EM, Padilla S, Markman L, Watanabe K, Novotny TE. Persistent tobacco smoke residue in multiunit housing: Legacy of permissive indoor smoking policies and challenges in the implementation of smoking bans. Prev Med Rep. 2020;18:101088. Epub 2020/05/06. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2020.101088. PubMed PMID: 32368436; PMCID: PMC7186560.

Does thirdhand smoke decrease my home’s value?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

When people smoke inside their home, the chemicals in tobacco smoke build up over time and leave toxic thirdhand smoke residue on carpets, furniture, walls, doors, and ceilings. This toxic residue lingers long after smoking stops and can remain after previous smokers moved out. A survey of real estate agents suggests that evidence of thirdhand smoke in a home decreases its value. Characteristics like a stale tobacco smell, or stains on walls or fabrics can reduce the selling price of a home by as much as 30%. That means if you live in a neighborhood where most homes sell for about $500,000, a similar home that smells like stale tobacco smoke will sell for around $350,000.

There are a few reasons why smoked-in houses often sell for less money. Most people do not like the smell of stale tobacco smoke. Many people immediately experience negative physical symptoms when they smell stale tobacco smoke, such as shortness of breath, headaches, sore throat, or earaches. Finally, it is difficult and expensive to remove the toxic thirdhand smoke residue.

Finally, most people want to buy houses that have not been smoked in. With a smaller group of potential buyers willing to buy a home where someone smokes, there is no competition to increase the price. Real estate agents recognize that it is more difficult to sell a home with evidence of thirdhand smoke. It may also be more difficult for the seller to find a real estate agent.

In California, the Seller Property Questionnaire (Section M, Question 2, Revised 12/16, 6/18) asked buyers to disclose if any occupant has smoked tobacco on or in the property. However, this process does not exist in many other states. Despite warnings against thirdhand smoke pollution, most buyers and real estate agents are aware of the signs of indoor smoking. They also understand the challenges of cleaning thirdhand smoke inside a home. It is not unusual for a potential buyer to ask the seller’s agent about the smoking history of a home, even if there is no odor of stale tobacco smoke. A reputable professional will not lie. An educated buyer will also ask the home inspector if there is evidence of tobacco use. Lastly, an educated buyer knows that the strong smell of air fresheners, scented candles, or the unexpected use of fans may be an attempt to hide a stale tobacco smell.

If someone in your household smokes and you are concerned about your home’s value, the first thing to do is to ask them to stop smoking indoors. That will stop the build-up of thirdhand smoke. The next step is to clean all walls, ceilings, carpeting, fabric, and windows. Additional steps include cleaning the heating and air conditioning duct system to attempt to remove thirdhand smoke from surfaces. Depending on how much thirdhand smoke has accumulated, cleaning may be insufficient, and a full remediation may be required. Remediation includes drastic (and often expensive) measures, such as removal and replacement of sheet rock, flooring, and the heating and air conditioning system.

Tobacco smoke residue can significantly decrease your home’s value. To avoid bad news when you sell your home, don’t allow tobacco use or vaping on or in your property. If thirdhand smoke has already accumulated, consult a remediation expert to make necessary repairs and improvements, and disclose the information to your real estate agenda and buyer.

Do you have more questions about the toxic legacy of tobacco smoke, how it affects human health, and what we can do about it? Learn more here.

Updated: April 2023

Sources:

Klassen, AC, Lee, N, Lopez, JP, Bernardin, C, Coffman, R, & Tefferi, M (2020). Realtors as Partners in Tobacco Control: Results from a Pennsylvania Survey. Tobacco Regulatory Science6(6), 392-404.

Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Zakarian JM, Fortmann AL, Chatfield DA, Hoh E, Uribe AM, Hovell MF. When smokers move out and non-smokers move in: residential thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure. Tob Control. 2011;20(1):e1. doi: 10.1136/tc.2010.037382. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21037269

Pfizer Canada. Quit to List Survey of Real Estate Agents and Brokers. 2013. Leger Marketing. Probasco, Jim. Six Things to Consider When Buying a House from Smokers. August 1, 2019. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/020617/6-things-consider-when-buying-house-smokers.asp

Probasco, Jim. Six Things to Consider When Buying a House from Smokers. August 1, 2019. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/020617/6-things-consider-when-buying-house-smokers.asp

This Old House. Understanding Thirdhand Smoke. Home Safety Videos. Retrieved from: https://www.thisoldhouse.com/home-safety/21249597/understanding-thirdhand-smoke

Up in smoke: Smoking in the home can lower resale value by tens of thousands. April 16, 2013. https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/up-in-smoke-smoking-in-the-home-can-lower-resale-value-by-tens-of-thousands-512275021.html 

Does smoking a pipe create thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue from tobacco smoke. It is also called “tobacco smoke residue” or “stale tobacco smoke.” The chemicals in thirdhand smoke are toxic to humans, especially children. It can linger for years in dust and on household surfaces. It can also become embedded in carpets, furniture, clothes, and building materials. It is difficult and expensive to remove.

 

Many people think that smoking a pipe is safer than smoking regular cigarettes, but pipe tobacco is also harmful to our health. Pipe smokers have an increased risk of cancers of the head, neck, liver, and lung. 

The smoke from smoldering tobacco in the bowl of a pipe and the smoke exhaled by the pipe smoker contain many of the same toxic chemicals as cigarette smoke, including nicotine. Pipes produce secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke causes cancer in humans and is especially dangerous to pregnant women and young children. 

Just like secondhand smoke from cigarettes, secondhand smoke from a pipe results in toxic thirdhand smoke residue that sticks to surfaces, clothes, carpets, furniture, and walls. Over time, thirdhand smoke residue from pipe smoke builds up and becomes embedded in indoor environments.
Do you have more questions about the toxic legacy of tobacco smoke, how it affects human health, and what we can do about it? Learn more here.

Updated:  May 2023

Sources:

Jacob P 3rd, Benowitz NL, Destaillats H, Gundel L, Hang B, Martins-Green M, Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Samet JM, Schick SF, Talbot P, Aquilina NJ, Hovell MF, Mao JH, Whitehead TP. Thirdhand Smoke: New Evidence, Challenges, and Future Directions. Chem Res Toxicol. 2017;30(1), 270-294.

Yeh, K., Li, L., Wania, F., & Abbatt, J. P. (2022). Thirdhand smoke from tobacco, e-cigarettes, cannabis, methamphetamine and cocaine: Partitioning, reactive fate, and human exposure in indoor environments. Environment International, 160, 107063. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.107063.

Thirdhand Smoke Research Consortium

In response to the mounting evidence, the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program formed and funded the California Consortium on Thirdhand Smoke and Human Health Effects in 2011.

The consortium is a multi-institutional and interdisciplinary effort, involving research groups from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, San Diego State University, University of California Riverside, University of California San Francisco, and University of Southern California.

Thirdhand Smoke Research Collection

The Collection of Thirdhand Smoke Research is a searchable database of peer-reviewed literature that continues to expand as new research is published.

Thirdhand Smoke Researchers

Learn about the researchers in the Thirdhand Smoke Research Consortium.

Current Projects

Learn about the Thirdhand Smoke Research Consortium’s current projects.

Past Projects

Learn about previously funded Thirdhand Smoke Research Consortium projects.

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About Us

In the face of increasing evidence about the toxic nature of thirdhand smoke and its impact on human health, the Thirdhand Smoke Research Consortium was established by California’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP).

The Consortium brings together researchers from a variety of scientific disciplines and institutions throughout California to advance our understanding of the relationships among thirdhand smoke exposure and human health.

In 2011 the first seven Consortium projects were funded by TRDRP. As the body of research has grown, the need to disseminate information to stakeholder groups and California’s diverse communities has intensified. In 2018, the Resource Center was one of the Consortium projects selected for funding by TRDRP, with the express purpose of educating the public about thirdhand smoke exposure and health.

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