Collaborative Consortium on Thirdhand Smoke: Research Projects and Core Resources

This series features the Consortium’s newly funded projects, which engage in groundbreaking research about the nature and health consequences of thirdhand smoke. Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue that is left behind on clothes, skin, furniture, walls, and other surfaces after someone smokes. In this installment, we feature the projects of Dr. Penelope J. E. (Jenny) Quintana and Dr. Rachael Record from San Diego State University.

New Consortium Research Projects

Thirdhand Smoke Disparities, Harm and Risk in Children
Penelope JE (Jenny) Quintana, PhD, MPH
San Diego State University

This project investigates whether smoking indoors leads to toxic metals like lead, cadmium, and arsenic in house dust. The researchers will analyze urine samples from children living in thirdhand smoke-polluted homes. Using existing samples from a clinical study led by Dr. Mahabee-Gittens, the researchers will look for signs of harm caused by metals in house dust. Previous findings suggest a connection between tobacco smoking and lead/cadmium in dust from low-income homes. This research also explores disparities in thirdhand smoke exposure based on income, housing type, and race/ethnicity. By analyzing archived samples and using non-targeted chemical analysis, scientists aim to identify toxic compounds in thirdhand smoke-contaminated dust. Researchers want to understand if low-income and minority communities bear a greater burden of involuntary thirdhand smoke exposure. Additionally, researchers will develop tests to detect thirdhand smoke contamination in homes and collaborate with the Lead Award to establish voluntary reference levels for nicotine and other thirdhand smoke chemicals in homes.

Dr. Quintana said that this project is leveraging thirdhand smoke research to inform and contribute to the California Tobacco Endgame Initiative in the environmental exposure and toxicology area. The researchers are measuring the heavy metals lead and cadmium in house dust and the relationship with biomarkers of harm in exposed children, focusing on health disparities and the disproportionate burden borne by low-income and minority communities to increase resources for prevention.

Read full abstract here.

New Consortium Research Projects

Thirdhand Smoke Messaging Among Priority Populations
Rachael Record, PhD
San Diego State University

rachael record headshot

Thirdhand smoke is the harmful residue left behind in places where tobacco products have been used before. It can be recognized by its bad smell and stains, but many people do not know that thirdhand smoke is bad for their health and can be an expensive problem. Understanding how people perceive and experience the risks of thirdhand smoke is crucial for the Tobacco Endgame, which aims to protect everyone from tobacco-related health risks. This is especially important for minority, low-income, and underserved communities who are most exposed to thirdhand smoke. To counter tobacco industry efforts in these communities, this project has three steps. First, the priority populations, including low-income adults from Hispanic/Latino, Black/African, Asian/Pacific Islander, and LGBTQ+ communities, will share their experiences and perceptions of thirdhand smoke through focus groups and surveys. Second, messages will be developed based on the findings, considering the cultural aspects of each population. These messages will be tested in a national online survey. In the final step, effective messages will be used in a social media campaign targeting priority populations in California, and user engagement data will be collected and analyzed. The project aims to increase thirdhand smoke awareness and knowledge, leading to stronger intentions to prevent thirdhand smoke exposure. The findings will guide tobacco control efforts and Tobacco Endgame policies for these priority populations.

When asked how her study would contribute to the Tobacco Endgame, Dr. Record said
“as the Tobacco Endgame is about eliminating the sale and impact of commercial tobacco products, this project contributes to that goal through raising awareness of the toxic legacy of thirdhand smoke among California adults. The more we can bring the importance of thirdhand smoke prevention to the forefront of the minds of Californian’s, the closer we are to removing the hold that big tobacco has over our communities.”

Read full abstract here.

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