According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco smoke can be classified into two different categories, sidestream smoke, and mainstream smoke. Secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke, is a combination of the two. Sidestream smoke is more toxic, with higher concentrations of carcinogens.
Second-hand smoke symptoms
When non-smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke it’s called involuntary smoking or passive smoking. Non-smokers who breathe in secondhand smoke take in nicotine and toxic chemicals by the same route smokers do. The more secondhand smoke you breathe, the higher the level of these harmful chemicals in your body.
If you are not a smoker, but live with one, it is important to understand that secondhand smoke is a mixture of gases and particles containing more than 7,000 chemical compounds. More than 250 of these chemicals are known to be harmful, and at least 69 are known links to both lung and breast cancer.
Tobacco smoke and particle size
Sidestream smoke particles are smaller than mainstream smoke and can penetrate deep into the lungs and bloodstream more easily. In addition to its known connection to cancer, tobacco smoke pollution may cause or worsen serious health conditions including respiratory infections, and asthma.
Where does the smoke go?
While there is no research to support that cigarette odors cause cancer, it has been found that particles from secondhand tobacco smoke can settle into dust and onto surfaces and remain long after the smoke is gone. According to the American Cancer Society, some studies suggest the particles can last for months. Researchers are now calling this thirdhand smoke or residual tobacco smoke. Dust samples taken from the homes of smokers show that thirdhand smoke contains NNK and PAHs, carcinogens known to cause lung cancer. Research also shows that thirdhand smoke can damage the DNA of human cells and that particles that settle from tobacco smoke can form more cancer-causing compounds which may be stirred up and inhaled with other house dust, absorbed through the skin or accidentally taken in through the mouth.
For these reasons, it is important to eliminate not only the odors caused by cigarettes smoke, but also the lingering particles, making the best air purifiers for smokers, one that can do both. To choose an efficient air filter for smoke is also crucial.
Clean up tobacco smoke
We spend more time at home than anywhere else. Maintaining a smoke-free home is one of the most important things you can do for the health of your family, guests and even your pets. Children are especially sensitive to the poisons in secondhand smoke. Asthma, lung infections, and ear infections are more common in children who are around smokers. Some of these problems can become serious and even life‐threatening.