Smoking in your home poses health risks for all

As smoking bans become common in public and open spaces, more people are lighting up inside their homes. However, this can have dangerous health effects.

When smoking at home, the smoke from the cigarette clings to everything, such as the carpet and furniture. This creates a constant environment of thirdhand smoke. Thirdhand smoke is tobacco smoke contamination that remains after the cigarette has been finished. Dust samples taken from the homes of smokers contain tobacco-specific carcinogens, making thirdhand smoke a possible risk factor for cancer as well.

A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in San Francisco study found the residue of nicotine on surfaces can react with other chemicals in the air to form potent carcinogens, which are known to cause cancer.

Thirdhand smoke can be particularly dangerous to infants and toddlers, as they will grow up in a house filled with unhealthy chemicals. Infants and young children might have increased exposure to thirdhand smoke due to their tendency to place objects in their mouths and touch affected surfaces, according to the Mayo Clinic. A study from the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that opening a window while smoking does not reduce the harm of thirdhand smoke.

Smoking at home can also cause fires. The U.S. Fire Administration said home fires caused by smoking materials kill almost 1,000 smokers and nonsmokers every year in the United States. During these fires, more than one-third of those killed were children of the smoker. One in four killed in these house fires were not the smoker.

For your health and safety, avoid smoking indoors at home.

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This post is also available in: Chinese

About Sara Brown

Sara Brown is the Sampan health editor.

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