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Study finds thirdhand smoke damaging to DNA

SmokingWe often hear about the dangers of secondhand smoking, but can the same be said for thirdhand smoke? According to a recent study, the toxins found in thirdhand smoke are potent enough to damage DNA considerably.

Thirdhand smoke refers to the stubborn, toxic residue leftover by secondhand smoke. And according to researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, it sticks to nearly all surfaces and isn’t easily cleaned away. In fact, researchers report that prior studies have found thirdhand smoke in dust and apartment surfaces over two months after smokers have vacated a living space.

“This is the very first study to report that thirdhand smoke is mutagenic,” said lead investigator and biochemist Bo Hang. “We also found that chronic thirdhand samples lead to higher levels of DNA damage than acute samples, suggesting that the effect of thirdhand smoke is cumulative and could become more toxic with time.”

Berkeley researchers, along with colleagues from the University of California, San Francisco, studied the effects using smoking chambers and strips of paper. Their findings suggest a startling cumulative effect that seems only to grow progressively more toxic.

Nicotine is a toxic stimulant that’s also highly addictive. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 68 percent of the nation’s adult smokers report that they want to quit.


By Marianne Hayes