Study: ‘Third-hand’ smoke a health risk

A study headed up by a Harvard professor reports that smoke particles lingering on furniture, carpet, and hair can be toxic to children.

02/02/2009


According to a New York Times article, the harmful effects of cigarettes don’t disappear when the smoke clears. Instead, particles from tobacco sink into carpet, cling to curtains, and permeate your hair, creating a blanket of toxic particles that pose a serious risk to children.


According to a medical study, an invisible, toxic concoction of gases and particles clings to a smoker’s hair and clothing, to room surfaces, and in HVAC/R systems--long after second-hand smoke has dissipated. This residue includes heavy metals, carcinogens, and radioactive materials that young children can get on their hands and ingest, especially if they’re crawling or playing on the floor.

The study, authored by doctors from MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston, coins the term “third-hand smoke” to describe these chemicals. The study was published in this month’s issue of the Pediatrics medical journal.

Dr. Jonathan P. Winickoff, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, said that parents often take measures to protect their kids from smoke’s harmful effects (i.e. turning on a fan or opening a window). However, more needs to be done to adequately safeguard the little ones.

. We needed a term to describe these tobacco toxins that aren’t visible.” 

Winickoff added that people often are already aware of third-hand smoke’s presence—a whiff of smoke on a smoker’s clothes when they return from a smoke break, or the odor lingering in a hotel room recently occupied by a smoker. “Your nose isn’t lying,” he said. “The stuff is so toxic that your brain is telling you:‘Get away.’”

The study reported on awareness of and attitudes about smoking in 1,500 American households. The majority of smokers and nonsmokers polled were aware that second-hand smoke is harmful to children. About 95% of nonsmokers and 84% of smokers agreed that “inhaling smoke from a parent’s cigarette can harm the health of infants and children.”

But far fewer indicated awareness of third-hand smoke’s risks. Researchers asked respondents if they agreed with the statement that “breathing air in a room today where people smoked yesterday can harm the health of infants and children.” Only 65% of nonsmokers and 43% of smokers agreed with that statement, which researchers interpreted as acknowledgement of the risks of third-hand smoke.

“We’re onto an important new health message here,” Winickoff said. “What we heard in focus group after focus group was,‘I turn on the fan and the smoke disappears.’ It made us realize how many people think about second-hand smoke—they’re telling us they know it’s bad but they’ve figured out a way to do it.” 

According to the doctors, parents who smoke often take measures to protect their children from second-hand smoke, such as cracking a window, turning on a fan, or limiting their smoking to outdoors. However, researchers indicate, the best way to safeguard children is to not smoke, period.

Researchers collected the data in a national 2005 telephone survey.





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
2016 Product of the Year; Diagnose bearing failures; Asset performance management; Testing dust collector performance measures
Safety for 18 years, warehouse maintenance tips, Ethernet and the IIoT, GAMS 2016 recap
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Safety at every angle, Big Data's impact on operations, bridging the skills gap
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role of plant safety and offers advice on best practices.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me