‘Third-Hand Smoke' Dangerous to Kids, Scientists Find

Experts warn of the dangers of smoke even after the cigarette is put out

Is one of your New Year's resolutions to quit smoking? Medical experts have offered yet another reason to kick those butts to the curb.

Many people are aware of the dangers of second-hand smoke, but contamination from tobacco smoke can remain long after the cigarette is put out—a phenomenon called "third-hand smoke."

"When you smoke—anyplace—toxic particulate matter from tobacco smoke gets into your hair and clothing," says lead study author, Jonathan Winickoff, MD, MPH, assistant director of the MassGeneral Hospital for Children Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy, ScienceDaily reports. "When you come into contact with your baby, even if you're not smoking at the time, she comes in contact with those toxins."

According to the Chicago Tribune, a recent study in the journal Pediatrics notes: "Children are especially susceptible to thirdhand smoke exposure because they breathe near, crawl and play on, touch and mouth contaminated surfaces."

Researchers say that low levels of tobacco particulates have been associated with cognitive deficits among children. Even extremely low levels of these compounds may be neurotoxic.

While these findings will not likely lead to legislation banning smoking in private homes, scientists do hope that people will use this knowledge to impose smoking restrictions anywhere children are or will be present.

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