Your Clothing May be Dangerous to Your Health

Thirdhand smoke researchers from Europe and the US reviewed the scientific evidence about the effects of wearing clothes contaminated with thirdhand smoke. They found that when people wear clothes full of thirdhand smoke residue, toxic chemicals can be absorbed into their bodies. These researchers suggest that sweat may speed up release of thirdhand smoke from clothing and discourage wearing contaminated clothing while exercising.  

By Park Se-young, Arirang News. 
June 24, 2019

When cigarette smoke, fine dust and bacteria get near the human body, the first thing they run into is clothing. Clothes can help block harmful substances, but they also absorb them and release them to the skin. In a paper published recently in Environmental Science & Technology, a group of researchers from Europe and the US reviewed the scientific evidence that clothing accumulates thirdhand smoke that can be released and absorbed by the body. “Clothing, when it’s completely clean, then it can act also as a protector. But then, after some time, because the clothing is absorbing tobacco smoke, then it starts becoming a source,” says Dusan Licina, Assistant Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. 
According to a study out of Denmark, nicotine was detected in the blood of people who wore clothes exposed to cigarette smoke for more than 72 hours, and another study found that cotton fibers one meter in width and length can absorb one milligram of nicotine, which is equal to ten lighted cigarettes. Clothes also absorb and release heavy metals like lead and beryllium, and cancer-causing agents like dioxin.  
The researchers suggest it is even more harmful to wear contaminated clothes when exercising because sweat makes the bond between the fibers of the clothes and the pollutants weaker, meaning harmful particles are released more quickly, and say there is a need for in-depth research on how fabrics absorb and release harmful substances. “If you just check your clothes, you will see what material is used, whether it’s cotton or wool or silk. All clothing should basically include in the label which indicates not only what materials are used, but also what substances are used in the fabrication process, like nutritional labels,” Licina says. 
To protect the body, Licina and his co-authors Glenn Morrison from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gabriel Bekö and Charles Weschler from Technical University of Denmark, and William Nazaroff from University of California Berkeley, advise having different clothes for indoors and outdoors and washing clothes immediately after coming back inside. 


Note: Content may be edited for style and length. 

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