First-hand smoke is when you personally inhale smoke from a cigarette. Second-hand smoke is when you breathe in smoke from someone else. So what the heck is third-hand smoke? That's all of the nasty second-hand smoke that gets stuck in clothing, furniture, drapes, and any other fabrics or on top of household objects that gets progressively more toxic over time.
So even if you are not around someone when they are smoking, if you live with a smoker; frequent a bar, club or restaurant that allows smoking; or ride in a smoker's car or taxi, you are being exposed to dangerous toxins that are just as deadly as if you were smoking tobacco yourself, according to a new study conducted by scientists at the University of California-Riverside. The results came from studying the effects of third-hand smoke on mice, and the findings were shocking.
Significant liver and lung damage was found in those exposed to strong carcinogens. According to Science Daily, there is an increase in fatty liver disease, a precursor to cirrhosis and cancer, and a potential contributor to cardiovascular disease. Third-hand smoke can also lead to Type II Diabetes (even when the person is not obese), fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, as well as hyperactivity and a slower ability for wounds to heal.
Research has shown that children living with one or two adults who smoke in the home, where second- and third-hand is are present, are absent 40 percent more from school due to illness than children who do not live with smokers.
So now imagine how your unborn child—whose lungs, brain and nervous system is still forming—could be affected. The CDC advises that inhaling smoke can cause pregnancy complications (including placenta previa—where the placenta grows too close to the opening of the uterus), premature births, babies with low birth weights or birth defects, stillbirths, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). And if third-hand smoke is as dangerous as first-hand smoke, that means being in smoke-soaked areas can also affect your fertility, because those who inhale smoke have more difficulties getting pregnant. So for the sake of you and your baby, steer clear of cigarette smoke.
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Image of No Smoking Sign courtesy of Shutterstock.