Everyone knows smoking is bad, but how bad is “bad”? The health effects of smoking are wide ranging and are not confined to just the smoker. In the US, second-hand smoke causes 7,330 deaths from lung cancer and 33,950 deaths from heart disease every year. In Canada, second-hand smoke cases about 830 deaths every year.
Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke
- Living with a smoker increases a nonsmoker’s chances of developing lung cancer by 20-30 percent.
- Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to develop ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, or die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Secondhand smoke can trigger asthma attacks, make asthma symptoms worse, or cause new cases of asthma.
Effects of Third-hand Smoke
Third-hand smoke is the residual nicotine and chemicals left on indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke. See below for the effects it can have on the surfaces of your home.
When third-hand smoke mixes and settles with dust, it makes its way to furniture and sinks deep into the porous material.
Third-hand smoke particles settle deep into the drywall of homes. Re-painting the walls will help dilute third-hand smoke, but replacing the drywall is the best course of action.
It is almost impossible to remove third-hand smoke from flooring surfaces; therefore, removing the flooring is the best option.
Smoke lingers in the hair, skin, clothing, and fingernails of smokers. Even if parents don’t smoke in front of their kids, the child is still exposed to third-hand smoke. The compounds are difficult to clean up, have a life of their own, and many may be carcinogenic.
Smoking can reduce the value of a home by thousands of dollars; some real estate agents estimate a price reduction of 20%. If the prospective homebuyer wants to rid the house of third-hand smoke, they can start by replacing the drywall, replacing the carpets, and cleaning the ventilation system. However, even these steps will not rid the home entirely of third-hand smoke.
Air vents and ductwork equipment recirculate stale smoke. Poor air quality can cause headaches, fatigue, sore eyes and respiratory issues. Cleaning out systems and replacing air filters is imperative for improved air quality.
There is no safe level of tobacco smoke and the results of second and third-hand smoke should not be underestimated.
For Additional Reading:
- The 411 on Second Hand Smoke
- Poor Air Quality: Don’t Let It Ruin Your Health
- City vs. Suburban Air Quality