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Child Passive Smoking ‘Increases Chronic Lung Risk’

Childhood passive smoking, i.e., growing up with parents who smoke, is more dangerous than you think, BBC reports, as research shows that nonsmoking men and women who grew up with smoking parents have a higher risk of dying from serious lung diseases. They also are more at risk of asthma and poor lung development, as well as an increased risk of chronic illness later in life. Living with a smoker during adulthood also adds risks, such as ischemic heart disease, stroke and chronic obstructive lung disease.

Although it wasn’t mentioned, thirdhand smoke — toxic residuals that smokers may bring into a nonsmoking setting, which then settle on furniture, carpeting and walls— is also a problem for both children and nonsmoking adults.

It works like this: Smokers are exposed to primary or firsthand smoke as they inhale; bystanders are exposed to secondhand smoke, the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the exhalation from the smoker; and then thirdhand smoke, which is the combination of secondhand smoke sticking to surfaces and persisting in the environment long after the smoker has left, exposes you even if the smoker has left the area.

And, researchers believe that inhaling these thirdhand chemicals may be contributing to the rising number of people suffering lung cancer who have never smoked. One study even found exposure to thirdhand smoke may be causing damage to human DNA, increasing your risk of diseases, and unfortunately, children may suffer the greatest health hazard risks to both secondhand and thirdhand smoke.

One way to mediate this is, if you're able to improve air quality in your own home, you go a long way toward reducing your potential risk over time. Consider methods of improving air quality at home using some of the strategies outlined in my previous article, "The Air You Breathe Is More Polluted Than You Know."

Researchers who studied the pollution effects of a smoking ban in a casino over time say you can accelerate positive health effects by remediating thirdhand smoke reservoirs, which include intensive cleaning and replacement of carpet, furniture and other materials.

The answer, of course, is to not smoke at all. The good news is it’s never too late to quit. For more information on the health benefits you get when you stop smoking, please see my article, “Here’s What Happens When You Quit Smoking.”

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