Toxic Thirdhand Smoke
When we smell stale tobacco smoke, it means that thirdhand smoke pollutants have been released into the air from the places they accumulated.
As we breathe in the polluted air, the smell of stale tobacco warns us that thirdhand smoke is present—with each breath, we are inhaling thirdhand smoke pollutants into our bodies. This mixture of thirdhand smoke pollutants contains chemicals that can irritate the throat and lungs, cause inflammation, harm normal cell functioning, damage DNA, and are known or suspected to cause cancer in humans.
Thirdhand smoke can linger indoors for a long time – months to years.
People can be exposed to thirdhand smoke by touching contaminated surfaces (absorption through the skin), eating contaminated objects or dust, and breathing in air and re-suspended thirdhand smoke components.
Thirdhand smoke is the tobacco pollution that persists in the air and on surfaces after smoking has stopped. Secondhand smoke gases and particles become embedded in materials and objects, like carpet, walls, furniture, blankets, and toys.
These chemicals adhere to objects and can be released back into the air or accumulate in house dust.
Source: Thirdhand Smoke Research Consortium. Hang B, Wang P, Zhao Y, Sarker A, Chenna A, Xia Y, Snijders AM, Mao JH. Adverse health effects of thirdhand smoke: From cell to animal models. Int J Mol Sci. 2017