When landlords discover their rental property has been poisoned by tenants who run a meth lab, they are forced to pay up to $120,000 to have the house cleaned and cleaned.
After all, homeowners are obligated to provide a safe environment for their tenants – although dangerous mold and damp conditions seem to pass through the caretaker.
But what about cigarette smoke? It doesn’t take long for one pack a day to sink into carpets, sofa, curtains and clothes.
The residue left behind is known as third-hand smoke (THS) and includes nicotine and carcinogenic chemicals such as formaldehyde and naphthalene.
According to the Mayo Clinic, airing out rooms, opening windows, using fans or air conditioners, or limiting smoking to certain areas of a home will not eliminate or prevent this unpleasant residue from taking hold.
And just like methamphetamine, third-hand smoke cannot be eliminated with regular household cleaning.
Two new studies suggest we should think twice before borrowing a sweater or underpants that belong to a smoker.
under your skin
Scientists at the Berkeley Lab in California first identified third-hand smoke as a potential health hazard a decade ago.
They found that aerosolized nicotine, released during smoking and vaping, “adsorbs to indoor surfaces, where it can interact with a compound in indoor air called nitrous acid (HONO) to form compounds that are strongly carcinogens called tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA)”.
In a new study, they found that levels of these toxic chemicals can persist in indoor environments to an extent that exceeds local risk guidelines, “meaning that non-smokers may be at health risk. health by living in contaminated spaces”.
This suggests that if environmental authorities were to audit smokers’ homes, they could potentially be evicted and the house placed under an intensive cleaning order.
Additionally, the researchers found that these “strongly carcinogenic” TSNAs can seep through the skin, a process known as “dermal exposure.”
Dermal exposure can occur from sleeping on smoky sheets or handling a smoker’s clothing.
A unique and unpleasant ingredient
“Nicotine is released in large quantities during smoking, and it coats all interior surfaces, including human skin,” said Dr Xiaochen Tang, who led the Berkeley experiments.
“We found that the presence of skin oils and sweat on the surfaces of the models resulted in a higher yield of TSNA in the presence of HONO, compared to clean surfaces.”
The Berkley team also experimented with a compound called NNA, known to be a unique compound from third-hand smoke residue.
Since traces of NNA can be found in urine and blood samples from people exposed to third-hand smoke, NNA serves as a useful specific measure of third-hand smoke exposure.
After scientists exposed human lung cells to NNA at various doses, they found that NNA was toxic and disruptive to human DNA, leading to a high risk of cancer.
The fact is that more toxins enter the body through the skin than through the breath.
Skin contact impairs wound healing
In June, researchers at the University of California, Riverside published a study that found that dermal exposure to nicotine levels found in secondhand smoke — or from e-cigarette spills — damages the skin.
“We found that skin contact with nicotine can impair wound healing, increase susceptibility to skin infections due to a decreased immune response, and induce oxidative stress in skin cells,” he said. Dr Giovanna Pozuelos, who recently completed her PhD in cell, molecular and developmental biology.
According to Dr. Pozuelos, the most susceptible people are those with skin conditions such as diabetes-related ulcers or arterial ulcers. But toddlers and infants are particularly at risk.
“Toddlers and infants, who tend to crawl on contaminated surfaces or have frequent contact with indoor surfaces, are particularly susceptible to high dermal exposure,” she said.