The ill effects of cigarettes have been shown to affect not only smokers but also those exposed to the smoke second hand. New research shows that thirdhand smoke – the invisible remnants of tobacco smoke that clings to surfaces and dust particles – could also be putting several billion people at an “under-appreciated health risk.”
Even the most courteous of smokers can be leaving behind tobacco residue that can be dangerous, say researchers from the University of California-Riverside. They reference previous studies that show children living with adults who smoke are absent from school 40 percent more days than children who do not live with smokers. Other studies have also shown that exposure to secondhand smoke may be to blame for hospital readmission for children with asthma.
But the invisible tobacco smoke residue that stands on surfaces becomes more toxic over time and, researchers say, could be just as harmful as firsthand smoke.
The scientists exposed laboratory mice to thirdhand smoke and then studied several of their organ systems. They found that alterations in several organs and excretion levels of a tobacco carcinogen were similar to those found in children exposed to secondhand smoke. Specifically, the mice exposed to thirdhand smoke had increased lipidlevels and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is a predecessor to cirrhosis, cancer and cardiovascular disease. They also had increased collagen production and inflammatory cytokine levels in the lungs, which increases the risk for fibrosis, pulmonary disease and asthma. The mice also showed poor healing in wounded skin and hyperactive behavior.
Other studies have also shown that exposure to thirdhand smoke can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in people who are not obese.
While the research is intriguing, scientists say that there is more to learn about thirdhand smoke and its potential risks to human health. However, the study should make people who smoke reconsider their habit, especially if children live in their home.
Source: Medical News Today