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The Power of Two

Mind the Smoke

Published August 6, 2014 3:03 PM by Eleanor Wolfram
A quick check of the CDC website will revealed that close to 40 million Americans smoke on a daily basis. And that first-hand smoke -- that is the smoker is participating in an activity that is the leading cause of preventable death in the US.

Advocates of reducing third-hand smoke recently gathered at the 247th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society. One of the conferences educational offerings presented a study that warns that third-hand smoke could lead to damaged DNA, thus opening a route that may result in cancer to nonsmokers. The session was entitled "Third-Hand Smoke Causes DNA Damage in Human Cells," was presented by a genetics scientist, Dr. Bo Hang of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

What I find interesting is that the residue of third-hand smoke is long lingering on surfaces and in the air in rooms and cars and on the furniture, walls and carpets where a smoker had previously been dwelling.

Often, a courteous smoker will ask you the infamous question before lighting up, "Do you mind very much if I smoke?" The intent is to ask permission to smoke in your presence. But it seems from Dr. Hang and his colleagues' studies, that past toxic compounds can be found in areas that the smoker has left and you may have just entered. This is powerful information.

Also, the research reveals that surface-absorbed tobacco residue my undergo a chemical transformation when it interacts with compounds in the atmosphere, creating new and differing pollutants that can lead to skin and lung diseases.

In a study published by Medical News Today, scientist warned that third-hand smoke may be just as harmful as first-hand smoke. Some scientists have found that third-hand smoke is linked to liver, lung and skin problems. One solution offered for reducing the risk of exposure to third-hand smoke is to remove contaminated carpeting and furniture and to repaint walls and other surfaces.

So I guess the new rule of thumb is don't even think about smoking in my presence or in my absence either.

posted by Eleanor Wolfram


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