Thirdhand Smoke? How to Rid Your House of This Stubborn Toxin

We all know that cigarettes are just plain bad for us. We also know that secondhand smoke is extremely dangerous as well. But thirdhand smoke? Have you ever considered the damage thirdhand smoke could cause?

First off, let’s clarify what thirdhand smoke actually is. Researchers use these three Rs to identify thirdhand smoke:

“Thirdhand smoke consists of residual tobacco smoke pollutants that 1) remain on surfaces and in dust after tobacco has been smoked, 2) are re-emitted back into the gas phase, or 3) react with oxidants and other compounds in the environment to yield secondary pollutants.” (source)

Essentially, thirdhand smoke is cigarette residue that clings on to surfaces like fabric, clothing, walls, carpets and even hair. If you are smelling the faint stench of cigarette smoke in a room, you are inhaling thirdhand smoke. Compounds from cigarette†smoke stick to surfaces for years after the last cigarette has been lit. As these volatile compounds slough off the surfaces, they†can easily be breathed in, ingested or absorbed through the skin. This is of special concern for those with young children who crawl around on the floor and stick their fingers into their mouths regularly.

Yet, as concerns over thirdhand smoke exposure grow, there is still little conclusive research that proves it is harmful. Understandably, human experimentation is out of the question, and good data can be difficult to gather. But, the general consensus is that thirdhand smoke is probably dangerous.

Studies on mice have suggested†that thirdhand smoke can cause cancer, hyperactivity in children, liver and lung damage, and insulin resistance (aka pre-diabetes). Of course, there is also concern around the†DNA-damaging compounds present in the residual smoke. But it would (likely) take years and years of exposure to cause this kind of damage.

Regardless of conclusive evidence, no one really wants to be exposed to thirdhand smoke. So what can you do about it? Well, first of all, make sure no one is currently smoking anywhere near your room/house/car and avoid places where people have smoked. Then, work on getting rid of that cigarette residue. While itís virtually impossible to eliminate cigarette residue entirely, hereís how to significantly reduce your exposure in a room previously exposed to cigarettes:

Paint the walls

A fresh coat of paint on your walls could trap some of the residue. While it will still be under the paint, there is no longer the threat of coming into contact with it via touch or inhalation.

Pull up the carpets

Carpets absorb everything, especially cigarette residue. While scrubbing a carpet with detergent may help, your best bet is to rip it up and replace it with hardwood or tile. If you love rugs, top your hard floor with area rugs that can be rolled up and cleaned on a regular basis to avoid any leftover accumulating residue.

Replace soft fabrics

Or give them a very deep cleaning. Itís very difficult to get cigarette residue out of old furniture. And, unfortunately, a couch is something you are often in skin-to-fabric contact with. Invest in your health by replacing smoke-exposed couches, curtains, pillows, et cetera. Itís not worth the risk.

Use a high quality air filtration system

Replace old air filters and invest in newer technology. Thirdhand smoke particles can become airborne on bits of dust, making consistently clean air a priority.

It can be extremely costly to clean a room of cigarette residue. The best and cheapest way to avoid thirdhand smoke exposure? Stay out of places where people have smoked.

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41 comments

Carl R
Carl R6 days ago

Thanks!!!

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Carl R
Carl R6 days ago

Thanks!!!

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Twila H
Twila H7 days ago

Thanks for the info!

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De D
De D12 days ago

This is no surprise.

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Carl R
Carl R13 days ago

Thanks!!!

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Jetana A
Jetana A13 days ago

Why is there a question? Of course tobacco smoke residues are harmful. I used to do laundry when I visited my mother for holidays, the had to rewash everything when I got home. That stuff is pernicious!

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Sandra V
Sandra Vito13 days ago

Thanks

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Janet B
Janet B13 days ago

Thanks

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rosario p.
rosario p13 days ago

Thirdhand smoke is responsible for illness and deaths in the aquarium. Never let nobody smoke the same room if you have one.

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Vance E
Vance Edwards14 days ago

Need healthy clean air? Transform your walls into a permeant air purification system, by mixing the ionic paint additive by Air-ReNu with paint and applying the blended mixture to the walls of your home or office. One application eliminates offensive odors such as cat urine, smoking odors, pet dander, toxins, and will continue to remain effective for 8 to 12 years

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