“Third hand smoke is residual tobacco smoke contamination that remains after a cigarette has been extinguished”.
- Dr Jonathan Winickoff, paediatrician, Dana–Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in Boston.
Many people have no idea that third-hand smoke is a cocktail of toxins that lingers in carpets, sofas, clothes and other materials. Long after a cigarette has been put out, it leaves an unpleasant lingering odour and is a particular health hazard for infants and children.
Third-hand smoke refers to the tobacco toxins that build up over time. One cigarette will coat the surface of a room, a second cigarette will add another coat and so on. Third-hand smoke is what remains after visible or ‘second-hand smoke’ has dissipated from the air. It’s hard to quantify because it depends on the space and the time that space has been ‘inhabited’ by a smoker. In a tiny space like a car the deposit is really heavy.
Why is third-hand smoke harmful?
The developing brain of a small child is uniquely susceptible to extremely low levels of toxins. Babies and children are closer to the ground, they tend to touch or even put their mouths onto contaminated surfaces like carpets and the fabric covers on furniture. In fact, children ingest twice the amount of dust that grown-ups do. Say an adult weighs 68 kilograms. Say a baby weighs 7 kilograms. The infant ingests twice the dust, due to faster respiration and proximity to dusty surfaces. Effectively, per kilogram of body mass they'll get 20 times the exposure.
Studies in rats suggest that tobacco toxin exposure may be a leading cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The Electrodry carpet and upholstery cleaning system effectively breaks down the tobacco and nicotine oils that hold these toxins to the fibres, largely removing any residues left by third-hand smoke.
It’s great when a smoker in the family gives up the habit, but there may be years worth of third-hand smoke deposits in the home … just waiting for grandchildren to discover!
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