While most people know the dangers of secondhand smoke, it turns out, thirdhand smoke can be just as bad.
Researchers at the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory determined that thirdhand smoke causes damage to human genes that lead to disease.
"Until this study, the toxicity of thirdhand smoke has not been well understood," a researcher said. "Thirdhand smoke has a smaller quantity of chemicals than secondhand smoke, so it's good to have experimental evidence to confirm its genotoxicity."
They found that thirdhand smoke clings to all surfaces it cans, and stays there for a long time. When people are chronically exposed to thirdhand smoke, the affects can be deadly, as the residue tends to become more harmful as time passes.
"This is the very first study to find that thirdhand smoke is mutagenic," another researcher said. "Tobacco-specific nitrosamines, some of the chemical compounds in thirdhand smoke, are among the most potent carcinogens there are. They stay on surfaces, and when those surfaces are clothing or carpets, the danger to children is especially serious."
But they believe the biggest problem is that thirdhand smoke is almost impossible to get rid of. Even after months of being aired out or wiped down, the residue of smoke remains.
"You can do some hinges to reduce the odors, but it's very difficult to really clean it completely," a researcher said. "The best solution is to substitute materials, such as change the carpet, repaint."
They believe their findings should act as a warning to people to stay away from all smoke.
"Ultimately, knowledge of the mechanisms by which thirdhand smoke exposure increases the chance of disease development in exposed individuals should lead to new strategies for prevention," they said.