Most people these days are aware of the dangers of second-hand smoke, but recently concerns have been raised over third hand smoke. Especially concerning are the dangers of third hand smoke and babies.
According to Cancer.org, Tobacco smoke is a mixture of gases and particles. It contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds. More than 250 of these chemicals are known to be harmful, and at least 69 are known to cause cancer.
Third Hand Smoke Definition:
I’m sure you have walked into the house of a smoker, or visited a restaurant that allows smoking and even if no one is currently smoking, the smoke and smell lingers in the air. It settles on surfaces and penetrates furniture, walls, curtains and any porous materials.
Third Hand Smoke Dangers:
Tobacco smoke forms tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) when it mixes with indoor air pollutants.
TSNAs are linked to:
- Lung Cancer
- Oral Cancer
- Esophageal Cancer
- Liver Cancer
- Pancreatic Cancer
Third Hand Smoke and Babies
How is a baby exposed to third hand smoke?
- In Utero – Babies can be exposed to third hand smoke before they are even born. When pregnant, simply by touching surfaces coated with smoke residue, a mother can expose her growing baby to third hand tobacco smoke components. And of course, being around and breathing cigarette smoke directly creates exposure as well.
- Breastfeeding – If a mother is around a smoker, particles can linger on clothing and in her hair. Mother’s milk can also contain particle residues as well.
- Cuddling with a Smoker – Babies can also be exposed when being held and cuddled by a loved one who smokes. Clothing tends to soak in the tobacco smoke, so even if the loved one smoked outside, they would still be exposing your baby to these harmful chemicals after coming in and holding them.
- Environment – Babies and toddlers are constantly putting toys, remotes, and countless other things in their mouths. Third hand smoke residue builds up on surfaces and is challenging to get rid of with regular cleaning. So even if you or your family doesn’t smoke around your baby or toddler, they are still exposed simply by crawling on the carpet or sitting on the furniture.
Reducing Your Baby’s Exposure to Third Hand Smoke
Third hand smoke is dangerous for adults and children, but babies and toddlers are especially at risk.
So what can you do to reduce your baby’s exposure to third hand smoke?
- Avoid visiting places where smoking is allowed inside as much as possible.
- If a loved one smokes, have them remove their jacket and leave it outside and wash their hands and face before holding your baby. Make sure the baby is covered as well so their skin is not exposed to residual third hand smoke that may linger.
- If you or your partner smokes, now would be a great time to quit.
Having a baby is one the most amazing experiences you will ever have. I know it can be overwhelming when there seems to be a new danger around every corner. You want to do everything possible to protect your sweet baby.
Just remember, you may not be able to completely avoid third hand smoke exposure for your baby, but with a little awareness, you can avoid it as much as possible!
P.S. Did you know that there was formaldehyde in baby products? Click here for some safer options for your baby!