We all know about the dangers of exposure to firsthand and secondhand smoke, but a new study featured on the Huffington Post reports that thirdhand smoke (THS), which produces surface-clinging residue, may cause DNA damage.

In order to see how much damage THS can trigger, researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory exposed paper strips to smoke that was equivalent to five cigarettes in 20 minutes and smoke that was equal to 258 hours of smoke and 35 hours of of ventilated air spread across 196 days.

The results showed that there were more toxic compounds on the paper strips that were exposed to smoke more frequently within 196 days, than those on paper strips that were blasted with intense smoke for a short period of time. When the compounds were then exposed to human cells in a culture for a day, researchers found that the toxins caused deterioration and oxidative DNA damage, and that the effects could get worse over time.

“Tobacco-specific nitrosamines, some of the chemical compounds in third-hand 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,” explains researcher Lara Gundel.

This adds to the long list of hazards of cigarette addiction. If you smoke, try your best to quit as early as you can. Not only will this help get you back to peak health, but it will also ensure that those around you won’t catch any of those THS compounds that may cause long-term damage.

(Photo by Karol Stróz via sxc.hu)

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