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The Impact of Thirdhand Smoke on Kids

Posted on May 13, 2019

Most of us are familiar with what firsthand and secondhand smoke is, but we also want parents to know about and understand the dangers of thirdhand smoke. This can be dangerous to adults, teens, children, pregnant moms, adults with respiratory illnesses and even your pets. This week on On Call for All Kids, Jasmine Reese, M.D., an adolescent medicine specialist and the director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Specialty Clinic at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, shares issues that impact children as a result of thirdhand smoke.

What is thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the toxic particles and chemicals that are formed after cigarette, e-cigarette vapor or aerosol combine with natural chemicals found in our atmosphere. Once a cigarette is put out, there are still toxic chemicals and particles from cigarette smoke that can stick to surrounding areas. These particles then stick to walls, furniture, clothing, hair and even pet fur. There are more than 250 chemicals in thirdhand smoke and these harmful substances have been known to cause cancer.

How much thirdhand smoke is OK to inhale?

There is no safe amount of firsthand, secondhand or thirdhand smoke to breathe in. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that we prevent exposure of any tobacco smoke to all children.

How do you prevent exposure to thirdhand smoke?

Preventing exposure means not allowing anyone to smoke in your home or your car. Also, ask caretakers such as family members or babysitters to be mindful and respectful of your rules of not smoking or vaping around your children. Oftentimes, people feel that smoking is safe if they change their clothing or smoke outside. The best and only way to completely prevent inhaling thirdhand smoke is to quit or to not start smoking at all.

On Call for All Kids is a weekly series featuring Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital medical experts. Visit HopkinsAllChildrens.org/Newsroom each Monday for the latest report.


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