Underage smoking due to lingering cigarette pollutants in indoor environment

Indoor Air Cartoon Journal, September 2018, Volume 1, #22

Exposure to pollutants that originate from cigarette smoking causes immediate, intermediate (short-term) and long-term health effects. Some of the immediate health effects associated with cigarette pollutants, as suggested in the literature, at childhood, young adulthood, middle adulthood and older adulthood stage of life include increased inflammation, respiratory symptoms, and nicotine addiction. Diabetes increased the risk of lung infections and worsen asthmatic condition are associated with short-term health effects that occur in young adulthood, middle adulthood and older adulthood stage of life. Impaired lung growth is an associated health effect at the childhood stage of life. Organ cancer, eye diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) are some of the cigarette pollutants associated long-term health effects that occur at older stage of life.

Smoking is prohibited in indoor environment in most countries because of the reported health effects associated with cigarette pollutants. Additionally, the age limit is set to cigarette smoking to protect the vulnerable people at their childhood and young adulthood stage of life. Unfortunately, people in their middle and older adulthood stage of life that make the decision to smoke do not only danger themselves. They also put the health of people around them at risk. People near smokers experience second-hand smoking. The second-hand smoking ceases soon after the smoking event. Of particular concern is the prolonged exposure to cigarette pollutants that linger for a longer period, i.e. third-hand smoking. Indoor environment enhances the longevity of cigarette pollutants because of its enclosed nature and indoor surfaces that introduce cigarette pollutants back into indoor air long after they – indoor surfaces – have served as a sink for cigarette pollutants. The particulate pollutants from cigarette smoking also serve as a medium for carrying chemical and biological pollutants to form secondary pollutants that could cause more adverse health effects than the primary particles that originate from cigarette smoking.

What does this knowledge mean to building occupants? How can design, construction, maintenance and operation of buildings be done to prevent building occupants, especially underage children, from (third-hand) cigarette smoking?

Third hand smoking_IAC 22

Do you want to know more about this topic? Read Bonnie et al. (2015), DeCarlo et al. (2018), and Ferrante et al. (2015) papers.


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