How dangerous is fourth-hand smoke

Cigarette smoke: the poison sticks everywhere

So-called second-hand smoke, i.e. smoke that is unintentionally inhaled by non-smokers, damages the lungs. Less known is “Thirdhand Smoke”. This is how chemists refer to toxic tobacco residues that stick to objects. These are released again as gases or react with other substances in the environment to form further toxins.

Researchers led by Ana Diez-Izquierdo from the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya in Barcelona have evaluated 68 studies on this topic. The effects were investigated in children and adults or in the context of experiments with mice and somatic cells. The researchers mainly recorded the effects of nicotine, nitrosamine and cotinine residues.

Chemical stress for the whole body

Among other things, Thirdhand Smoke disrupted the function of the mitochondria in the body cells, according to the results. These cell organelles provide the body cells with the energy they need. Exposure to chemical stress has numerous health effects on the entire body.

Some studies have also shown that the maturation of neuronal stem cells slowed down under the influence of tobacco poisons. This process is necessary for efficient and healthy brain function.

In addition, pathological symptoms of the respiratory tract increase. The formation of new blood vessels on contact with third-hand smoke was also reduced. At the same time, the propensity for thrombosis increased and the liver metabolism deteriorated.

DNA damage and behavioral problems

In addition, changes in the DNA after contact with Third Hand Smoke can be detected. This can accelerate the aging process and increase the risk of cancer.

Some researchers also observed abnormal behavior in mice exposed to third-hand smoke: many animals were hyperactive.

Poison on carpet, clothing, skin and hair

Thirdhand Smoke's toxic particles can be ingested through the mouth, inhaled, or even absorbed through the skin. Children who crawl on the carpet of a smoker's household or put contaminated objects in their mouths are particularly stressed.

Smoking outside the door is not enough

Parents who leave their homes to smoke also harm their children. Because the poisonous particles stick to skin and clothing and are transmitted when you cuddle.

The researchers recently presented their results at the congress of the European Respiratory Society (ERS) in Paris. The population should be educated more about third-hand smoke and its consequences, according to study director Diez-Izquierdo. So far, little is known about this in the general population. In addition, it is important to research the long-term effects of such exposure more intensively.

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