Feeds

New cig peril: Third-hand smoke coats puffers in poison

Deadly 'electronic gaspers' fingered, too

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

US federal boffins in Berkeley, California say they have discovered yet another deadly hazard associated with smoking. They also raise warnings regarding the perils associated with electronic cigarettes.

The dangers of actually smoking a cigarette, and those from breathing a smoker's "second hand" smoke were well-known: but now we learn of that insidious killer "third hand smoke".

"The burning of tobacco releases nicotine in the form of a vapor that adsorbs strongly onto indoor surfaces, such as walls, floors, carpeting, drapes and furniture. Nicotine can persist on those materials for days, weeks and even months. Our study shows that when this residual nicotine reacts with ambient nitrous acid it forms carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines or TSNAs," says Hugo Destaillats of the Indoor Environment Department at Berkeley Lab. "TSNAs are among the most broadly acting and potent carcinogens present in unburned tobacco and tobacco smoke."

Basically it isn't enough to banish smokers to an outdoor area, there to suck and gasp on their burning sooty treats. As they do so, their clothes and skin will become coated with deadly nicotine, which will then react with nitrous acid floating inside a building - usually generated by "unvented gas appliances" or diesel engines, apparently - to form a slick of poisonous slime which they will drip everywhere in the style of giant, evil snails.

"Smoking outside is better than smoking indoors but nicotine residues will stick to a smoker's skin and clothing," says Lara Gundel of the Berkeley Lab. "Those residues follow a smoker back inside and get spread everywhere. The biggest risk is to young children. Dermal uptake of the nicotine through a child's skin is likely to occur when the smoker returns and if nitrous acid is in the air, which it usually is, then TSNAs will be formed."

And don't think you're getting away with the use of a so-called "electronic cigarette". These battery powered in-mouth devices vapourise a nicotine solution into a mist, allowing a hopeless drug-slave to get his or her fix without generating any first or second-hand smoke. But the nicotine fog, according to the Berkeley researchers, will still generate third-hand smoko-slime, and kill children by the score.

It seems that only "100 percent smoke free environments in public places" - presumably meaning not even outdoor smoking - can be acceptably healthy. In the case of buildings where "substantial smoking" has occurred in the past, the Berkeley profs recommend that the carpets, walls, furniture and ceilings be replaced.

There's more on the new discoveries here. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.