How Third-Hand Smoke Affects Your House and Your Health

If you or someone you know is a lifelong smoker, you’re familiar with the smell of third-hand smoke. The stale odor hits you the moment you walk into a smoker’s home. Almost everyone is aware of the dangers of secondhand cigarette smoke, but many people aren’t aware that the unpleasant smell that lingers in a smoker’s home long after the smoke itself has cleared may be just as bad for your health.

What Is Third-Hand Smoke?

After smoke leaves the cigarette and the smoker’s lungs, it dissipates into the air. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that it has disappeared from the environment. It settles onto objects and surfaces and becomes what is known as third-hand smoke. Over time, a sticky, noxious layer made up of nicotine residue and various toxins forms on carpets, walls, furniture, toys, kitchen appliances and everything else in the household. At this point, chemicals contained in third-hand smoke are mixing with dust and reacting with other environmental substances such as ozone and nitrous acid to create secondary pollutants. The toxic mix becomes part of the air you breathe. If you can smell third-hand smoke, it’s capable of entering your lungs when you breathe and leaving residue on your skin after contact.

How Does Third-Hand Smoke Affect Health?

Although research concerning the negative effects of third-hand smoke is relatively recent, scientists have already uncovered disturbing evidence. Most experts agree that third-hand smoke is especially dangerous to infants and young children. When exposed, children may have smaller body mass and weaker immune and respiratory systems. Some studies have even linked exposure to sudden infant death syndrome. Studies conducted on mice found that third-hand smoke is associated with liver and lung damage, poor healing and hyperactivity. In adults, third-hand smoke is known to cause respiratory problems and changes that lead to type II diabetes regardless of body weight. Most alarming is the evidence found by Berkeley Lab showing that third-hand smoke causes damage to human DNA, which is associated with uncontrolled cell growth and cancer.

Smoker’s Restoration: Get Rid of Those Toxins

If you’re a smoker or former smoker concerned about the effects of third-hand smoke, don’t despair. Or, if you’ve moved into a home where the previous occupant was a smoker, you can still restore your air quality with a little time and effort. If you only have light contamination, cleaning non-porous surfaces, washing draperies and linens, repainting affected walls and removing contaminated upholstery can help. If a high level of third-hand smoke is present, consulting a smoke damage restoration professional is the best way to ensure complete removal without causing further exposure to toxins during the cleaning process.

Clear the Air With Help From Paul Davis

At Paul Davis, we help put homes and lives back together through reconstruction and remediation of fire and smoke damage, water damage and other disaster-related problems, but we know that it doesn’t take a catastrophe to compromise your health. Whether your home has suffered fire damage, or it’s contaminated by third-hand cigarette smoke, we can reduce your health risks by eliminating harmful impurities at their source. Contact Paul Davis today to learn how we can help.