Smoking Residue on Household Surfaces Can Harm Kids

By   |  January 12, 2024

By Carole Tanzer Miller HealthDay Reporter  |  Copyright © 2024 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

THURSDAY, Jan. 11, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Nearly half of homes tested in a new study contained toxic byproducts of cigarette smoke.

Known as thirdhand smoke, these tobacco byproducts remained on furniture, floors and bric-a-brac. 

Researchers who tested homes of 84 children found nicotine on surfaces in every home, and nearly half had detectable levels of a tobacco-specific carcinogen called NNK.

"This is critically important and concerning," said lead author Ashley Merianos, an associate professor at the University of Cincinnati and affiliate member of the Thirdhand Smoke Research Consortium. 

The study found that NNK levels on surfaces and in vacuumed dust were similar. Merianos said that indicates that both can be similar sources of thirdhand smoke exposure for kids.

"This research highlights that home smoking bans do not fully protect children and their families from the dangers of tobacco," she added in a university news release.

Researchers also found that kids in lower-income households and those in homes that allowed indoor smoking were exposed to higher levels of NNK and nicotine on surfaces.

But both were also detected in homes with voluntary bans on indoor smoking. Researchers said that underscores the persistence of thirdhand smoke pollutants on surfaces.

The findings were recently published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology.

More information

Learn more about the health effects of thirdhand smoke at Thirdhand Smoke Resource Center.

SOURCE: University of Cincinnati, news release, Jan. 9, 2024