Second and Third-Hand Smoke

By National Cancer Institute

Second-hand smoke can cause cancer in nonsmokers. It can also cause breathing problems and heart disease. People who breathe secondhand smoke get colds and flu more easily. And they often die younger than those who don’t breathe it. Even a little second-hand smoke is dangerous.

Pregnant women who breathe secondhand smoke have many risks:

  • They may lose their babies.
  • Their babies may be born small.
  • Their babies are more likely to die of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
  • Their children may be cranky, restless, and get sick more often.
  • Their children are more likely to have learning problems.

Children who breathe secondhand smoke have troubles too. They are much more likely to have breathing problems such as asthma. They also get more ear and lung infections (like pneumonia).

Pregnant or thinking about having a baby?

Women who smoke have a harder time getting pregnant. And you face more dangers if you do get pregnant:

  • You may lose the baby or have a stillborn (dead) baby.
  • Your baby may be born small.
  • Your baby is more likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Your baby may be cranky, restless, and get sick more often.
  • Your baby is more likely to have learning problems.

The good news is that quitting can help you have a healthy baby. It helps to quit at any time while you are pregnant. It’s even better to quit before you get pregnant.

Third-Hand Smoke

Cigarette smoke gases and particles that cling to smokers’ hair and clothing, not to mention cushions and carpeting, has been called “third-hand smoke.” The residue includes heavy metals, carcinogens and even radioactive materials that young children can get on their hands and ingest, especially if they’re crawling or playing on the floor.

Doctors from MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston coined the term “third-hand smoke” to describe these chemicals in a new study that focused on the risks they pose to infants and children. The study was published in the January 2009 issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Among the substances in third-hand smoke are hydrogen cyanide, used in chemical weapons; butane, which is used in lighter fluid; toluene, found in paint thinners; arsenic; lead; carbon monoxide; and even polonium-210, the highly radioactive carcinogen that was used to murder former Russian spy Alexander V. Litvinenko in 2006. Eleven of the compounds are highly carcinogenic.

 

APA Reference
Cancer Institute, N. (2009). Second and Third-Hand Smoke. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/second-and-third-hand-smoke/0001545
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.