The dangers of thirdhand smoke

You've heard about secondhand smoke and you know that it can hurt people who breathe it.

Now scientists are researching the health consequences of thirdhand smoke: The residue that tobacco smoke leaves on furniture, carpets, walls, clothing and other inanimate objects.

"It's a serious health hazard," said Dr. John Swartzberg, head of the editorial board at the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.

If you go into a hotel room where someone has been smoking, you can smell the smoke that gotten into the furniture and the bedding and the wallpaper.

"Then, slowly, those inanimate objects release the chemicals into the air and you inhale that," Dr. Swartzberg explained. "And those chemicals do us harm, just like inhaling smoke."

Based on their tests, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab estimate that the greatest risk from thirdhand smoke is during the first 10 hours after the last cigarette was smoked. Then it starts to level off.

More Info: Thirdhand Smoke: A Lingering Threat

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