Third Hand Smoking Research Papers

1. Rabin RC. A New Cigarette Hazard: ‘Third-Hand Smoke.’ New York Times, Health section, Research subsection, online edition. Jan 2, 2009. [[accessed 12 Jan 2011]]. Available:

2. Third-hand Smoke as Dangerous as Cigarette Fumes. The Telegraph, Lifestyle section, Health subsection, online edition. Feb 8, 2010. [[accessed 12 Jan 2011]]. Available:

3. Fox M. Even Third-hand Smoke Carries Carcinogens: Study. Reuters, U.S. edition. Feb 8, 2010. [[accessed 12 Jan 2011]]. Available:

4. Watson T. New Tobacco Danger: ‘Third-Hand Smoke.’ AOL News, Nation section, Health subsection. Feb 8, 2010. [[accessed 12 Jan 2011]]. Available:

5. Carcinogens Form from Third-Hand Smoke. ScienceDaily, Science News section. Feb 9, 2010. [[accessed 12 Jan 2011]]. Available:

6. Hamzelou J. Smoking May Pose ‘Third-hand’ Cancer Hazard. New Scientist, Health section, online edition. Feb 8, 2010. [[accessed 12 Jan 2011]]. Available:

7. Harmon K. Third-hand Smoke Contains Carcinogens Too, Study Says [weblog entry] Scientific American, Observations section, online edition. Feb 8, 2010. [[accessed 12 Jan 2011]]. Available:

8. Ryan C. Judge to Allow Smoking Lawsuit against LVCVA. Las Vegas Sun, News section, online edition. May 20, 2010. [[accessed 12 Jan 2011]]. Available:

9. ASH. Four New Dangers to Nonsmokers [website] Washington, DC: Action on Smoking and Health; [[accessed 12 Jan 2011]]. Available:

10. Wynder EL, et al. Experimental production of carcinoma with cigarette tar. Cancer Res. 1953;13(12):855–864. PMID:13116124. [PubMed]

11. Hein HO, et al. Indoor dust exposure: an unnoticed aspect of involuntary smoking. Arch Environ Health. 1991;46(2):98–101. PMID:2006900. [PubMed]

12. Matt GE, et al. Households contaminated by environmental tobacco smoke: sources of infant exposures. Tob Control. 2004;13(1):29–37. doi: 10.1136/tc.2003.003889.[PMC free article][PubMed][Cross Ref]

13. Matt GE, et al. Residual tobacco smoke pollution in used cars for sale: air, dust, and surfaces. Nicotine Tob Res. 2008;10(9):1467–1475. doi: 10.1080/14622200802279898.[PubMed][Cross Ref]

14. Matt GE, et al. When smokers move out and non-smokers move in: residential thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure. Tob Control. doi: 10.1136/tc.2010.037382. [online 30 Oct 2010] [PMC free article][PubMed][Cross Ref]

15. Singer BC, et al. Gas-phase organics in environmental tobacco smoke. 1. Effects of smoking rate, ventilation, and furnishing level on emission factors. Environ Sci Technol. 2002;36(5):846–853. doi: 10.1021/es011058w.[PubMed][Cross Ref]

16. Singer BC, et al. Gas-phase organics in environmental tobacco smoke: 2. Exposure-relevant emission factors and indirect exposures from habitual smoking. Atmos Environ. 2003;37(39–40):5551–5561. doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2003.07.015.[Cross Ref]

17. Szabo L. Babies May Absorb Smoke Residue in Home. USA Today. Aug 6, 2006. [[accessed 12 Jan 2011]]. Health and Behavior section, online edition. Available:

18. Winickoff JP, et al. Beliefs about the health effects of “thirdhand” smoke and home smoking bans. Pediatrics. 2009;123(1):e74–e79. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-2184.[PMC free article][PubMed][Cross Ref]

19. Sleiman M, et al. Formation of carcinogens indoors by surface-mediated reactions of nicotine with nitrous acid, leading to potential thirdhand smoke hazards. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2010;107(15):6576–6581. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0912820107.[PMC free article][PubMed][Cross Ref]

20. Crespi CL, et al. A tobacco smoke-derived nitrosamine, 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone, is activated by multiple human cytochrome P450s including the polymorphic human cytochrome P4502D6. Carcinogenesis. 1991;12(7):1197–1201. PMID:2070484. [PubMed]

21. IARC. Smokeless Tobacco and Some Tobacco-specific N-Nitrosamines. Vol. 89. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2007. [[accessed 12 Jan 2011]]. Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. (2007). Available:

22. NTP. Report on Carcinogens. 11th Edition. Research Triangle Park, NC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Toxicology Program; 2009. [[accessed 12 Jan 2011]]. Available:

23. Sleiman M, et al. Secondary organic aerosol formation from ozone-initiated reactions with nicotine and secondhand tobacco smoke. Atmos Environ. 2010;44(34):4191–4198. doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2010.07.023.[Cross Ref]

24. Oberdörster G, et al. Nanotoxicology: an emerging discipline evolving from studies of ultrafine particles. Environ Health Perspect. 2005;113(7):823–839. doi: 10.1289/ehp.7339.[PMC free article][PubMed][Cross Ref]

25. Becquemin MH, et al. Third-hand smoking: indoor measurements of concentration and sizes of cigarette smoke particles after resuspension. Tob Control. 2010;19(4):347–348. doi: 10.1136/tc.2009.034694.[PMC free article][PubMed][Cross Ref]

26. CalEPA. Sacramento: Reproductive and Cancer Hazard Assessment Section, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California Environmental Protection Agency; 2001. [[accessed 12 Jan 2011]]. Expedited Cancer Potency Values and No Significant Risk Levels (NSRLS) for Six Proposition 65 Carcinogens: Carbazole, Meiq, Meiqx, Methyl Carbamate, 4-N-Nitrosomethylamino)-1-(3-Pyridyl)-1-Butanone, Trimethyl Phosphate. Available:

27. Cieslak M, Schmidt H. Contamination of wool fibre exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. [[accessed 12 Jan 2011]];Fibres & Textiles in Eastern Europe. 2004 12(No.1(45)):81–83. Available:

28. Ueta I, et al. Determination of volatile organic compounds for a systematic evaluation of third-hand smoking. Anal Sci. 2010;26(5):569–574. doi: 10.2116/analsci.26.569.[PubMed][Cross Ref]

29. Van Loy MD, et al. Dynamic behavior of semivolatile organic compounds in indoor air. 2. Nicotine and phenanthrene with carpet and wallboard. Environ Sci Technol. 2001;35(3):560–567. doi: 10.1021/es001372a.[PubMed][Cross Ref]

30. Beckett WS, et al. Effect of nitrous acid on lung function in asthmatics: a chamber study. Environ Health Perspect. 1995;103(4):372–375.[PMC free article][PubMed]

31. Knafla A, et al. Development and application of a skin cancer slope factor for exposures to benzo[a]pyrene in soil. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2010.09.011. [corrected proof online 1 Oct 2010] [PubMed][Cross Ref]

32. Kaufmann RB, et al. Vital signs: nonsmokers’ exposure to secondhand smoke—United States, 1999–2008. [[accessed 12 Jan 2011]];MMWR. 2010 59(35):1141–1146. Available: [PubMed]

33. Öberg M, et al. Worldwide burden of disease from exposure to second-hand smoke: a retrospective analysis of data from 192 countries. Lancet. 2011;377(9760):139–146. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61388-8.[PubMed][Cross Ref]

34. TRDRP. Call for Applications [webpage] Oakland, CA: Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program, University of California; [[accessed 12 Jan 2011]]. [updated 22 Jun 2010]. Available:

Dangers of Third-Hand Smoke

You know that smoking is dangerous for the smoker and for people exposed to second-hand smoke, but did you know that third-hand smoke can also cause serious health problems?

Like smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke has been shown to cause emphysema, asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer and other long-term diseases. Third-hand smoke refers to the residue from cigarette smoke that remains on just about every surface exposed to that smoke.The smoke residue is particularly good at clinging to hair and fabrics, including clothing, carpets, drapes, and furniture upholstery.[1] The residue reacts with other chemicals and materials in the air, combining to form substances that cause cancer.[2] This toxic mix is then breathed in or absorbed through the skin.

Many public buildings ban indoor smoking, and the majority of people who smoke are aware of the health risks to them and everyone around them-and therefore confine their smoking to outdoors, away from children and non-smokers. But even after the cigarette has been put out, you can carry dangerous nicotine residue back inside on your hair and clothes and put others at risk of developing cancer.[1]

Health Risks Worse for Children

Children are particularly vulnerable. Like adults, they can absorb the tar and nicotine leftovers through their skin.The effect on children is greater because they are still developing. Also, children are more likely to put their residue-covered hands on their nose or in their mouth.[3] Researchers found that the smoke residue mixes with other things in the environment to create cancer-causing gases known to cause developmental delay in children.[1] Parents should know that if they smoke in the car, their children can absorb the cancer-causing chemicals from the car upholstery, even if the children weren’t inside the car when the parent was smoking

Third-hand smoke is a new health concern. While we know that the residue combines with the air and other pollutants, like car exhaust fumes,[4] to make a cancer-causing substance, we don’t yet know for certain that it causes cancer in humans and if so, how much exposure is dangerous. Figuring out the answer will be challenging, because most people exposed to third-hand smoke are also exposed to second-hand smoke. We know that non-smokers develop lung cancer, for example, but we usually don’t know if a non-smoker developed cancer because he or she was exposed to third-hand smoke, or for other reasons unrelated to smoking.

Bottom Line On Health Risks

Smokers with children or those who live with non-smokers should never smoke inside the home or in their car, and clothing worn while smoking should be washed as soon as possible. If you smell cigarette smoke in a place or on someone, it means you are being exposed to third-hand smoke. An expert on helping people quit smoking recommends that after quitting, people should thoroughly clean their homes, wash or dry clean clothing, and vacuum their cars to remove the dangerous smoke leftovers.[2] Logically, it would be a good idea to do that even while a person is cutting back on smoking, to reduce their exposure to nicotine and other dangerous chemicals.

All articles are reviewed and approved by Dr. Diana Zuckerman and other senior staff.

  1.  Kern JA. Thirdhand smoke another danger. Mayo Clinic Quit Smoking Blog. March 24, 2009.
  2. Sleiman M, Gundel LA, Pankow JF, Peyton J, Singer BC, Destaillats H. Formation of carcinogens indoors by surface-mediated reactions of nicotine with nitrous acid, leading to potential thirdhand smoke hazards. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. January 6, 2010.
  3. Winickoff JP, Friebely J, Tanski SE, Sherrod C, Matt GE, Hovell MF, et. al. Beliefs About the Health Effects of “Thirdhand” Smoke and Home Smoking Bans. Pediatrics. (123.1)74-79
  4. Ballantyne C, What is third-hand smoke? Is it hazardous? Scientific American. January 6, 2009.


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