I remember the public service announcements when I was a little girl. "Smoking may be dangerous to your health." And as I hit my teen years, those PSA's began to tout the hazards of secondhand smoke.
Now as my own children listen to the public service announcements between their shows, the numbers keep climbing. Third-hand smoke? What is that?
A term coined to describe the residual chemicals and gases that are left on services long after a cigarette has been snubbed out, concerns about third-hand smoke are likely here to stay.
It's subtle. It lasts. And it's tenacious.
After reviewing the articles to date on third-hand smoke, a few things hit me. Unlike the visible and olfactory cues that make first and secondhand smoke obvious, third-hand smoke is much more subtle. The buildup of particles on surfaces that have been exposed to smoke is largely invisible. And, unless you're a bit of a bloodhound, you might not even know it's there.
There were two other points that made me think we're just starting to hear about third-hand smoke. One is it's staying power. Secondhand smoke can be sent on it's way in a matter of minutes. Yet a study of third-hand smoke found lingering evidence 2 months after a home was vacated and free of smoke.
My other concern was how hard it is to get rid of. You think throwing your smoke-exposed clothes in the wash will do it? Hiring the carpet cleaning service? Dropping a load off at the drycleaner?
To remove nicotine residue, you need an acidic cleaner. Since most cleaners are alkaline, the residue remains.
Are you interested in learning more? Check out this article: