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Safety And Security

'Third-hand smoke' on surfaces can interact with compounds to form carcinogens

February 09, 2010
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WASHINGTON — A study by the Berkeley National Laboratory has found that tobacco smoke residue on indoor surfaces can interact with compounds in the air to form new carcinogenic substances, according to BusinessWeek.

According to the story, post-smoking toxic residue that settles on surfaces — also called "third-hand smoke" — is a relatively new field of research, but nonsmokers, particularly infants, can be affected through contact.

The study tested what happened when nicotine residue came into contact with the nitrous acid compound — a substance commonly found in indoor areas — and found that the two substances interacted to form tobacco-specific nitrosamines, a carcinogen, the story stated.

Hugo Destaillats, a co-author of the study, said: "We''re talking here about compounds that were not originally emitted by cigarettes but that may form indoors as a result of the residue that settles indoors, after smoking, which then mixes with indoor chemistry."

Authors of the study stressed that they did not test the potential effects the substance may have on humans, but hope that other research labs will pick up on the study, the story added.

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