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.
Must Read Stories
Dr. Ching-Fei Chang, a pulmonologist at Keck Medicine at USC discusses the dangers of exposure to toxic second- and thirdhand smoke.
Ten years ago, the New York Times Magazine highlighted “thirdhand smoke” in its annual “Year in Ideas” issue, which takes a look back at the past year through innovations and insights from a wide variety of fields. Since then, teams of researchers world-wide have produced more than 100 scientific studies related to thirdhand smoke, reinforcing and expanding the concerns raised in 2009.
In September, Dr. Hugo Destaillats, Staff Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a member of the Thirdhand Smoke Research Consortium, addressed the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He discussed thirdhand smoke chemicals and their health effects.
San Diego State University researchers provided feedback to homeowners about how much nicotine and other tobacco-specific compounds remained in dust and on surfaces after cleaning homes contaminated with thirdhand smoke. Overall, the cleaning methods used reduced the amount of pollution in the homes. Their findings are being shared through an informational brochure that is available in English and Spanish.
Joseph Martin from the Rover Tobacco Control Library at UC Davis, interviewed Dr. Georg Matt, Professor at San Diego State University and Director of the Thirdhand Smoke Resource Center, to learn more about thirdhand smoke. Read or listen to their conversation.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find 20% of US workers are exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke at work. Secondhand smoke is the precursor of thirdhand smoke. Where there is secondhand smoke there will be thirdhand smoke.
Smokers who live in homes with high levels of thirdhand smoke have a harder time quitting. A new study found that the higher the level of nicotine in house dust, the less likely the smoker’s quit attempts are to be successful.
Researchers at Drexel University investigate why thirdhand smoke is much harder to avoid than secondhand smoke. Despite a smoking ban and ventilation, they found nearly 1/3 of the particles in the air in a ventilated non-smoking room contained chemicals found in thirdhand smoke.
Indoor smoking generates the tobacco smoke that ultimately becomes thirdhand smoke. One of the best ways to prevent thirdhand smoke is to ban indoor smoking. A new study conducted by researchers at San Diego State University shows that electronic alerts can help parents who smoke remember to “move it outside.”
Researchers at University of California, Riverside, found cellular damage in healthy non-smoking adults after just three hours of exposure to thirdhand smoke. This is the first study to show a direct effect of thirdhand smoke on cells in humans.
Penn State researchers found higher levels of exposure to nicotine than expected in children as young as six months of age. Children who spent more time in center-based day care had lower nicotine exposure. For children who live in homes with high levels of second and thirdhand smoke, center-based day care may offer some protection from exposure.
After just three weeks, nicotine was found on surfaces and deep inside brand new pillows that researchers placed in the homes of former smokers. Read excerpts from Lamonica Everett-Haynes’ interview with the researchers.
USA Today reported on a study by Consortium scientists that suggests when hotels allow smoking anywhere on the property, smoke gets everywhere.