Smoking parents usually think that opening a window or ventilating the room is enough to make it smoke-free and safe for their kids, however, scientists have recently discovered a health hazard, which is rather difficult to remove: third-hand smoke.
This term defines invisible but hazardous residue settled on smokers’ clothes, and even bedding and carpeting, which lasts even when tobacco smoke has been eliminated from the room. Third-hand smoke comprises toxic heavy metals, cancer-causing substances and other chemicals that infants can contact with, when they are playing or crawling.
The term “third-hand smoke” was coined by the researchers from Boston General Hospital for Children. It denotes those substances in the recent research, which is concentrated on the hazard they represent to adolescents. The results of the research are revealed in January 2009 issue of Pediatrics Journal.
Dr. Jonathan P. Winickoff, head of Harvard Medical School Department of Pediatrics and the author of the research admitted that everybody has been aware that tobacco smoke is harmful, but hardly anyone knew there has been third-hand smoke, even more hazardous.
The scientist added that many smokers light up when their kids are not home, or they puff in their cars, with some of the smokers even believing that opening a window in the car would protect their children sitting in the back from the exposure of tobacco smoke. So the science was in need of a notion to define tobacco residue not visible, yet very toxic.
Prof. Winickoff said that Third-hand smoke can be found in many common places, for instance on the clothes of a smoker, or in a car of a smoker. People know that foul smell of tobacco, and they don’t like it, as on the subconscious level they get warnings from their brain.
The research was based on the survey of 1,500 families throughout the nation. The respondents were asked several questions related to their attitude towards tobacco smoking. The research concluded that that most part of household knew that second-hand smoke id dangerous to their kids. Almost 95 percent of non-smokers and more than 80 percent of smokers responded positively to the statement that “being exposed to the cigarette smoke from a parent could put at risk the health of the minors”.
However much fewer of the respondents knew about the hazards of third-hand smoke. As the notion of third-hand smoke is a new one, the scientists asked whether the respondents agree that “inhaling air in a place where people lighted up several hours ago could affect children’s health”. Just 60 percent of non-smokers and 40 percent of smokers responded positively to that statement.
Therefore, the researchers are concerned that people have been misled into thinking that switching on a fan could eliminate tobacco smoke.
Prof. Winickoff said they would cooperate with the public health organizations in order to educate smoking parents that using an odor neutralizer or opening a window is not enough to protect the children from the harm of third-hand smoke, as the cancer-causing substances found in that smoke put everyone who contact with that smoke at great risk.