OHIO — Secondhand smoke has been well-researched and people know the impacts that it has, but thirdhand smoke can be harmful as well. 

What You Need To Know

  • University of Cincinatti study shows how thirdhand smoke can accumulate in homes

  • Thirdhand smoke is especially dangerous for children

  • It leaves nicotine and NNK residue on surfaces 

Ashley Merianos, an associate professor at the University of Cincinnati, explained what thirdhand smoke is.

“Thirdhand smoke is either inhaling, ingesting or dermally absorbing the pollutants that are left behind in the environment after tobacco has been smoked,” she said.

The pollutants can be found on walls, furniture and even decorations. Merianos led a study that looked at more than 80 homes in Cincinnati that had a smoker and a child living inside.

“The goal was to find nicotine and the cancer-causing chemical NNK through vacuuming and wiping surfaces,” she said.

She described the findings of the study as “alarming."

“We found that nearly half of the children had NNK on their surfaces and nearly 70% had NNK found in their dust. We also found that 100% of children had nicotine detected on their surfaces and nearly 100% had nicotine detected in their dust,” she said.

Merianos expressed that thirdhand smoke causes a particular danger to children.

“We know that secondhand smoke can cause respiratory symptoms as well as illnesses, but some of our other research has shown that thirdhand smoke is related to respiratory symptoms and respiratory illnesses that previously were thought to be exclusively from secondhand smoke,” she said.

To minimize thirdhand smoke, Merianos urged people in smoking households to clean surfaces frequently.