Even a smoke-free environment does not protect against smoke particles
The harmful residues of cigarette smoke can also get into and be deposited in rooms where smoking has never been done before. In one experiment, almost 30 percent of the tiny particles in the air were associated with cigarette smoke in a smoke-free room. This leads to various negative factors for health, which can be triggered by passive smoking.
In their current study, the scientists from Drexel University in Philadelphia found that particles of smoke from cigarettes can also be found in rooms where no smoking has ever been done before. Of course, this increases the risk of developing various diseases due to the effects of passive smoking. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Science Advances".
Almost 30 percent of the particles came from cigarette smoke
In the current investigation, the experts measured the tiny particles in the air that are associated with cigarette smoke. The experiment was conducted in an empty classroom by never smoking before. The researchers were able to determine that around 30 percent of the particles in the air in this room were associated with cigarette smoke. The scientists did not expect to find such a signature of tobacco smoke in an actually smoke-free environment, explains study author Professor Peter DeCarlo from Drexel University.
Animal studies have shown negative effects
The dangers of passive smoking are generally well documented. But it is not yet known whether exposure to third-party smoke causes the same damage to human health, says Professor DeCarlo. However, animal studies have already shown that exposure to third-party smoke can have negative health effects, the expert adds.
How do the particles get into smoke-free rooms?
In non-smoking areas, the harmful particles from the smoke penetrate through ventilation systems and clothing. These particles then settle on walls and furniture. They are very difficult to remove and can emit harmful substances for years, explains Professor DeCarlo.
Is passive smoking harmful?
In the laboratory tests, investigators used cigarette smoke to confirm that tobacco residues can get from their source to areas where no one has smoked before. In the past, many people were still skeptical about whether passive smoking was dangerous at all. Then extensive studies clearly showed that secondhand smoke is bad for health. Now we're facing another danger, third-hand smoke, the researchers say. For some people, such as people with asthma, third-party smoke is particularly dangerous. Now the question arises whether these smoke particles are also dangerous for the general public, the doctors explain.
Are e-cigarettes also harmful?
A total of 29 percent of the tiny indoor particles that people can breathe in a non-smoking room have been associated with third-party smoke residues. These results could also apply to particles released by e-cigarettes, says Professor DeCarlo.
Tar sticks everywhere and releases toxic substances
People should know that actually smoke-free environments are not necessarily free of smoke residues or tobacco smoke, warns the expert. The particles of smoke from cigarettes unfortunately remain in the air for a very long time. Previous research has already shown that organic compounds in cigarette smoke (tar) adhere to walls, carpets, furniture, clothing, skin and hair. Once they settle somewhere, they can stay there for months and even years, releasing new, sometimes more toxic substances
The environment actually had a high air quality
What makes this study so remarkable is that Drexel University has been smoke-free for over 20 years and air quality has been very high during its experiments. The study observed that even very small amounts of cigarette smoke have a major impact on air quality.
How can indoor air be improved?
Small particles that are carried through the air are very important for human health because they can penetrate deep into the lungs. Even a low concentration of these particles in the air increases the risk of cardiovascular and lung diseases. Because the use of tobacco products has such a strong impact on the chemistry of our indoor air, enforcing a strict smoke-free policy and providing comprehensive services to people who want to quit smoking is very important. This way, the indoor air can be kept clean, which would lead to improved protection of public health, the experts emphasize. (as)