A new study has been published demonstrating the adverse health impact of third hand smoke. Research findings by the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory analyzed the amount of 50 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and third hand smoke constituents present in indoor air after a cigarette has been distinguished.
“In the U.S., the home is now where nonsmokers are most exposed to second- and thirdhand ment of smoke. The goal of our study is to provide information supporting effective protective measures in the home. The amount of harm is measurable even several hours after smoking ends,” said chemist Hugo Destaillats, lead author of the study. “Many smokers know secondhand smoke is harmful, so they don’t smoke when their kids are present. But if, for example, they stop smoking at 2 p.m. and the kids come home at 4 p.m., our work shows that up to 60 percent of the harm from inhaling thirdhand smoke remains.”
The research team collected data from two environments: one was a room-sized chamber at Berkeley Lab where six cigarettes were machine-smoked and levels of particulate matter and 58 VOCs were monitored during an aging period of 18 hours; the second was a smoker’s home, where field measurements were made 8 hours after the last cigarette was smoked. Logue led the health analysis, using an impact assessment approach that she has used for studying indoor air pollutants.
Health data was available for only about half of the measured chemicals. For those Logue used a metric called DALY, or disability-adjusted
“We ranked the health damage due to each of the pollutants for which we had data,” Logue said. “We found that particulate matter, or PM2.5, accounted for 90 percent of the health damage.”
PM2.5, or particles that are less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, can be inhaled deeply into the lungs and cause serious health problems. The study identified also those tobacco VOCs with the highest health impacts, some of which exceeded concentrations considered harmful by the state of California over the entire 18-hour period.
A secondary purpose of the was to comprehend when second hand smoke turns into third hand smoke. Depending on the criteria used, the predicted health damage caused by thirdhand smoke could range from 5 percent to 60 percent of the total harm. “A lot of the harm attributed to secondhand smoke could be due to thirdhand smoke,” Gundel said. “Because there’s a gradual transition from one to the other, we don’t really know yet what the chronic effects of thirdhand smoke are.”
Mohamad Sleiman, Jennifer M. Logue, Wentai Luo, James F. Pankow, Lara A. Gundel, Hugo Destaillats. Inhalable Constituents of Thirdhand Tobacco Smoke: Chemical Characterization and Health Impact Considerations. Environmental Science & Technology, 2014; 141031160825007 DOI: 10.1021/es5036333