Reasons to vape: Study shows thirdhand smoke resides indoors for decades

Multiple studies document the negative health affects of secondhand smoke, but did you know that there is something called thirdhand smoke that can be just as dangerous?  A surprising new study has determined that the chemical residue from combustible tobacco can get trapped inside furniture, carpets, and other textiles found in indoor spaces for several years after the initially burning of the cigarette.  Scientists call this anomaly thirdhand smoke.

Scientists from Drexel University have discovered that these carcinogenic chemicals can quickly become airborne and perhaps even spread throughout the building’s ventilation system.  Using an aerosol mass spectrometer, the researchers began by monitoring the air compression and pollution levels of an unoccupied, non-smoking classroom for a period of one month.  Their initial objective was to determine which type of pollutants could make their way indoors from the outside. 

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However, after only a few days, they began identifying a rather strange and unexpected chemical occurrence that only occurs indoors.  Since the chemical oddity could not possibly be attributed to outdoor pollution, where did it come from?  The Drexel team would eventually discover that the chemicals associated with thirdhand smoke were the likely culprit.  They also determined that approximately 29 percent of the room’s air mass was contaminated with these harmful toxins.

“To add that much additional mass through one type of process is pretty large…We didn’t expect this at all.”
-Peter DeCarlo, lead author on the Drexel study entitled Thirdhand smoke uptake to aerosol particles in the indoor environment via Science Advances

Perhaps even more alarming, no one had smoked in the still-polluted classroom for about 25-years.  However, about 20 meters down the hall was a small balcony where people would often sneak outside to smoke cigarettes throughout the day.  Also nearby was a small office space that doubled as a designated indoor smoking area.

The scientists determined that the nasty thirdhand smoking particles effectively hitched tiny rides on microscopic air particles before traveling and infecting the entire building.  The researchers even allege that the secret outdoor smoking from the balcony may have played a significant role since air conditioning systems pulls air from the outdoors. 

For vapers trying to convince their smoking loved ones to make the switch, consider telling them about thirdhand smoke.  The thought of millions of carcinogens living and breeding within the home for perhaps 25-years or longer is enough to make anyone sick to their stomach.

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