Researchers at San Diego State University (SDSU) and the University of Southern California (USC) have opened the nation’s first public resource center on thirdhand smoke, the toxic residue from tobacco smoke that can saturate homes, businesses, hotels, cars and casinos for years after the last cigarette is stubbed out.
“There’s a big illusion that when tobacco smoke disappears, we’re safe,” said SDSU psychology professor Georg Matt, director of the resource center. “Unfortunately, some of the most toxic compounds clinch to surfaces. They get embedded in carpets, they coat walls, they penetrate into walls. They become part of the indoor environment.”
The particles and vapors also become embed in ceilings, carpets, furniture, cabinets, bedding and toys and have been detected years after smoking has stopped. They impact hotel and motel patrons, apartment tenants, resale homebuyers and taxi or ride-hailing passengers in places exposed to previous smoking.
In a recent study of 220 San Diego County apartments, smoke residue was detected in all 220 apartments despite very few of them housing smokers as tenants at the time. In some units, the levels were as heavy as those of smoking rooms at hotels.
Funded by revenues from a cigarette tax increase approved by California voters in 2016, the Thirdhand Smoke Resource Center will offer educational materials, workshops and additional resources on the hidden substances and the health hazards they pose.
A new website, thirdhandsmoke.org, is the centerpiece of the effort to increase public awareness of thirdhand smoke.
The SDSU-based center and its website, Matt said, are intended to “make the public more aware of thirdhand smoke” and “help create indoor environments that 100% free of tobacco smoke pollutants.”
The Center can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by telephone at 619-594-3018. You can follow the new Center on Facebook @ThirdhandSmokeResourceCenter, Instagram @thsresources, and Twitter @thsresources.
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