Thirdhand smoke is a toxic residue that sticks to surfaces and objects. People come into contact with thirdhand smoke when their skin touches a surface where thirdhand smoke has collected, when they breathe in thirdhand smoke chemicals that are in the air, and when they swallow residue that are on objects that they put in their mouths. Indoor environments where tobacco has been smoked can contain thirdhand smoke that will linger indoors for a long time – months to years.
On this page, you will find scientific information and first-hand accounts about preventing or avoiding exposure to thirdhand smoke pollution in houses, apartments/condos, hotels, and more. You can find communication strategies for interacting with realtors, apartment managers, and hotel staff. You can also read about your right to avoid places with thirdhand smoke pollution.
Download our new Resource Guidelines: Multiunit Housing and Thirdhand Smoke
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Can you test for thirdhand smoke?
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.
How Can We Test For Tobacco Exposure In Children’s Environments?
A recent study by Thirdhand Smoke Resource Center Consortium member Melinda Mahabee-Gittens and colleagues investigated if hand nicotine levels can be used as an indicator of second- and thirdhand smoke exposure in children’s environments.