Researchers caution the dangers of thirdhand cigarette smoke in public settings

Aside from the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused unimaginable destruction to the health and economy of populations globally, researchers are keen on addressing another major public health concern: third-hand smoke (THS) exposure.

From the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances: “Real-time THS off-gassing from smokers into a nonsmoking movie theater was observed with online and offline high-resolution mass spectrometry.”

“Prominent emission events of THS tracers (e.g., 2,5-dimethylfuran, 2-methylfuran, and acetonitrile) and other tobacco-related volatile organic compounds (VOCs) coincided with the arrival of certain moviegoers and left residual contamination,” researchers at Yale University explained in their journal article.

According to the team at Yale, third-hand smoke can lead to people carrying hazardous compounds from cigarette smoke that cling in their bodies or clothes, to release them in non-smoking settings. This, in turn, can expose people to the cigarette’s negative effects, similar to those directly exposed to smoke.

“Despite regulations preventing people from smoking indoors, near entryways, and near air intakes, hazardous chemicals from cigarette smoke are still making their way indoors,” said Roger Sheu, the study’s lead author, in a Yale article.

“The researchers emphasized that avoiding movie theaters is not the solution to avoiding third-hand smoke. In fact, the theater used for the study is modern, large, and well-ventilated, which reduced the effect of the emissions on concentrations of hazardous compounds in the room. In less well-ventilated spaces similar third-hand smoke emissions would likely result in considerably higher concentrations of many of these compounds,” researchers indicated in their Yale press release.

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