Deborah L. Shelton on ChicagoTribune.com reports that there is now concern over “third-hand” smoke. Third-hand smoke is not a term I had ever heard before. Most of us I believe are only familiar with “second-hand” smoke.
Second-hand smoke is that smoke which is inhaled by a non-smoker when exposed to someone who is smoking a cigarette in their immediate vicinity. Shelton’s article “Experts warn of the dangers of “thirdhand” smoke” tells us that after the cigarette is extinguished it continues to be dangerous.
The basic information about third-hand smoke is bad enough but it gets worse.
Third-hand smoke is actually residue that settles on surfaces found in the home after the smoke settles. Anyone who has ever had a fireplace backup knows what third-hand smoke looks like.
Very young children are at risk. They crawl around and move from surface to surface exposing their skin to the residue and touching their skin to their mouths.
The information about third-hand smoke was made available by publication in the journal Pediatrics.
What is the goal of the study’s promoters, legislation that totally bans smoking?
Actually, for once the information is being used to inform parents so they can make intelligent decisions.
An interview with Joel Africk president and CEO of the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago yielded his thoughts that included viewing a decision by parents to ban smoking in their home comparative to that of not using lawn chemicals because of possible exposure to children while playing outside. Africk, who was not directly involved in the study, was quoted in the article: “We see this as the right and authority of the family to decide they are not going to allow these carcinogens in the home.”
Before even considering third-hand smoke, cigarettes and children already present a daunting problem.
The American Heart Association describes these problems:
Children of families who smoke in the home equal about 59% and they have a much greater chance of developing lung and respiratory illness. Further, of course, children who see their parents smoke are more likely to smoke and children who smoke before the age of 20 are much more likely to develop coronary artery disease.
I began smoking right at age 20. When my wife and I had our first baby (I was 34), she kicked me out of the house anytime I had a cigarette still, and our son had terrible problems with his ears which many babies have but our pediatrician said he believed it was due to second-hand smoke.
Whether smoke is inhaled directly or on an indirect basis or, its residue gets on the skin it is dangerous.
While in reasonably good health today, at age 38 I had a minor stroke: I was lucky.