Drew is a licensed pharmacist and researcher. Has hands-on knowledge about the health risks brought by cigarette smoke exposure.
What Is Thirdhand Smoke?
You might have heard of secondhand smoke (fumes exhaled from burning tobacco) from your grade school. But third-hand smoke? What in the world is that?
Thirdhand smoke is residual chemicals containing cancerous compounds that could affect non-smokers, especially children, and the immuno-compromised. These are residual chemicals left by cigarette smoke on various surfaces of your home or workplace.
Thirdhand smoke can latch on almost all places in your home such as:
- Floorings and Walls
- Draperies and Clothing
- Toys and Home Ornaments
- Air ducts and Furnaces
- Your Hair
How To Protect Children From Thirdhand Smoke?
The toxic chemicals brought by thirdhand smoke can cause serious health issues to children, pregnant women, the elderly, people with breathing issues, and even pets.
Even simply breathing off-gas remains or touching contaminated surfaces can expose you to thirdhand smoke. Now, if you’re a parent or a grandparent, think of your babies and toddlers. Scary right?
That’s why I listed 5 evidence-based ways to protect your kids and all your family members from thirdhand smoke. Simple tips to serve as preventions and safety nets to avoid these health risks from entering your home.
1. Don’t Allow Smoking Near Your Family
2. Clean The Third Hand Smoke Sources
3. Set House Rules For Smokers
4. Spare Not The E-cigarettes
5. Teach Your Family About Third Hand Smoke
6. Hand Washing
Let’s get into it.
1. No Smoking Near Your Family
Not in your home. Not in your car. Not anywhere near your family. It’s a very simple tip but is most often taken for granted and ignored.
Not allowing smokers near your family can go a long way. You’ll not only be free from third-hand smoke but also second-hand smoke. Believe me, you’re doing your kids a great favor.
Studies have shown that thirdhand smoke contains tobacco-specific nitrosamines and polycystic aromatic hydrocarbons. Here’s a shortlist of health issues these chemicals may cause on your children:
- Sudden Infant Death
- Childhood Asthma
- Ear Diseases
- Developmental Defects
- Childhood cancers
- Acute Respiratory infections
As a pharmacist, I know these oddly named chemicals well enough and I’m dead sure these are mutagenic and cancerous compounds. Some chemicals in thirdhand smoke are the same as those in secondhand smoke.
It is something I’ll never want near my family, especially to children who are more prone to suffer from thirdhand smoke.
2. Clean Your Home From The Thirdhand Smoke
If you have a kid in your home, don’t ignore that foul tobacco smell. Clean it away until the stink is as dead as it can be. Don’t wait until it’s already too late. That cigarette odor isn’t sexy. It contains cancerous chemicals I have spoken of before.
Aside from the health risk from thirdhand smoke may cause, there’s another big issue to deal with, especially when you’re in the home rental business such as Airbnb. What is it?
Trust me on this, cigarette smoke is one of the hardest things to remove from your rental. It’s very difficult. Our family rents out a few of our properties for business. And we suffered from thirdhand smoke issues. Heck, removing the lingering cigarette odor was so frustrating and hard that my hair almost turned white.
Just a piece of advice, if you have the same smoke odor issues as mine. You must carefully study first how to clean that stubborn cigarette odor.
Anyway, one thing I learned the hard way is to not allow smokers in your rentals. Well, unless you have the ultimate clean-up team behind your back.
3. Set House Rules For Smokers
Playing hard with rules is another effective precautionary measure. We don’t leave in a perfect world, so if the smoker is a family member and they couldn’t just stop, you need to come to terms with it.
Craft simple house rules for the smokers in your household. Rules such as:
- No ashtrays inside the home
- Don’t smoke near the family
- Make a smoking zone
- Make a no-kids zone garage for smoking
- No smokers, please
- Take a bath before hugging (I’m serious!)
Though it might not make the smokers quit smoking, at least you’re sure they’re far from your children.
4. Spare Not The E-cigarettes
Although many have said that it’s far better than traditional cigarettes, there has been a rise in vaping-related lung injuries. There are even some cases of death related to it.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a conclusion yet about the e-cigs health debacle, unlike traditional cigarette smoking. And people may say it has fewer toxic chemicals, but fewer doesn’t mean there is none.
The chemicals used in vaping may also linger like thirdhand smoke. Thus, I encourage everyone to avoid vaping mania, especially if you have kids.
Most people don’t even know what chemicals are in their e-cigarettes. So until more in-depth studies are released, always think it’s better to be safe than sorry. Just as the adage has said, “prevention is always better than cure.”
5. Teach Your Family About Thirdhand Smoke
Don’t go solo and learn to share your knowledge about thirdhand smoke with your kids and family. Trust me, you will never be always there to protect your cute little ruffians. Even a supermom or superdad will eventually falter.
When they leave home, go to the supermarket, school, malls, or wherever it is. They’re on their own and all you could do is make them more aware.
Making the health hazards of smoking clear to your kids may also curb their desire to smoke in the future. Hey, scaring them work from time to time, right?
6. Handwashing Is Key
Yes, hand washing will you to avoid those toxic remnants. It will be great if you can instill such a habit in your children. Aside from viruses and bacteria, smoke chemicals may linger on various surfaces.
Most of the time, we don’t even realize where we put our hands on. Just imagine this scenario, there’s a smoker in the house and you’re a grandparent of a toddler who loves to crawl and grab everything they can find.
Then one day, you see your little grandchild put their hands in their mouth.
Do you see now how handwashing works on this scene? It can also protect children from other diseases along the way. So come on now, encourage your children and family members to always wash their hands.
Exposure to thirdhand smoke may cause a lot of health issues if not taken seriously, especially to children. It’s important to learn how to protect your kids from it.
Anyway, don’t wait and start making those countermeasures against it. The health issues thirdhand smoke might bring wait for no one.
Dangers of Thirdhand Smoke
- Thirdhand Smoke: State of the Science and a Call for Policy Expansion
- What is thirdhand smoke, and why is it a concern. Mayo Clinic.
- Thirdhand Smoke: New Evidence, Challenges, and Future Directions
- Remediating Thirdhand Smoke Pollution in Multi-unit Housing: Temporary Reductions and the Challenges of Persistent Reservoirs
- Health effects of secondhand smoke for infants and children
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Drew Agravante