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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Third Hand Smoke, Another Risk Factor

 Another post about the dangers of smoking, cancer and COPD may seem like just "preaching to the choir". No one wants the obvious pointed out yet again, and may sum it up as the rants from a bitter and angry person. I'd say it's more of a consuming sadness over the outcome from poor choices made by those we love. It's the frustration in dealing with the "it could have been so different" or the "if only" regrets people have later in life.

Being we now know what we know about the damage done by cigarettes, it is infuriating to think the tobacco industry could be fully aware of the potential addiction and  harm caused by smoking.
The cigarettes themselves are made to almost ensure the smoker will enjoy it enough to want another and another to the point of physical and emotional dependence. 

Most of us are aware that smoking is not only limited to the smoker but the chain of potential harm extends to anyone, pet or human, that breathes the same air. But did you know there is such a thing as Third Hand Smoke?

Third Hand Smoke is the residue that drifts and settles on every object in the vicinity...the walls, ceiling, floor, linens, curtains and every piece of furniture in between. It floats and adheres to our clothes, our pet's fur, our hair, etc. I can recall as a child, how periodically, my mother would attempt to remove the grimy, yellowing film which discolored the kitchen walls.

Anyone in real estate must dread trying to sell a home where the occupants were smokers. Trying to remove that odor embedded into everything is a real challenge. Soap and water just won't cut it. Smoke residues are alkaline, therefore, something acidic like vinegar is necessary. The risk with vinegar is that it may affect the color of fabric and carpets. Carpets are such a challenge, it may be best to just remove them from the home.

Children and pets are dependent and vulnerable. The consequences of the choices made by the adults in the home may not be apparent at the time, and no one can prove anything to place blame should a health condition arise, but it seems ludicrous to even take that chance. Children touch everything and inevitably their fingers end up in their mouths. With pets, their mouths are like a child's hands, and again whatever is touched is ingested.

The main particles left behind after smoking are carcinogens, nicotine, cyanide, radioactive polonium-210, lead, arsenic, butane and aromatic hydrocarbons.
Those particles left behind don't just sit there. There is a phenomenon called an off-gassing process which is where gases are exposed to the air from the particles left over on the surroundings after smoking. Toxins are released into the atmosphere long after the smoking is over.

Just a reminder to those parents who excuse their behavior by saying they don't expose their children or pets because they go outside to smoke. They are still exposing their clothes, hair and skin to those settling smoke residues, which by the way, don't just float harmlessly away. People must realize that whatever is on their lips when they kiss their child, or their fingers when they reach for their child, ends up on that child.

Being we live in a social society where it is nearly impossible to avoid human contact and indoor air, the best we can do is just be aware of our surroundings. If you attend a social gathering where smoking is allowed, be sure to shower and wash your clothes when you get home. Protect your children and pets by not being too meek to voice your rules concerning their welfare. If people think you are being a b***h, so be it. Women are too often raised that it is impolite to speak up or make waves. That "good little girl syndrome" has to be put aside when it is necessary to be a mother bear.

We hear it all the time that knowledge is power and ignorance is bliss. Anyone who jokes that the less they know, the happier they'll be, is a fool. Back in the day when smoking was commonplace and people honestly didn't know how harmful it can be, it was understandable how they could have continued such a habit. But today, with information being so accessible, and the advances in scientific research, there is no excuse for the "I didn't know". The grown children of those who are now paying the price with their health, can see first hand what can happen. The children have no choice but to witness the heartbreak of watching their loved ones suffer through chronic illness and potential early death. They may be put in the position to become caregivers at a time in life when they are trying to raise their own families, and rather than enjoying grandchildren, parents are struggling just to breathe.

Resist the temptation to use cigarattes as a way to relieve tension, calm the nerves, curb the appetite, peer pressure, relieve depression, or whatever other reasoning there is.
Better to choose a friend who will stick by you when the chips are down, not actually stick it to you.