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Secondhand Smoke Can Hide in Your Home

Dust on furniture surfaces a hidden source of contaminants

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Secondhand tobacco smoke contaminants lurking in household dust and on furniture and other surfaces can expose children to levels that are equivalent to several hours of active smoking, says a study in the current issue of Tobacco Control.

The study also says that making adults smoke outside doesn't fully protect children from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke.

Researchers compared 49 homes that included children between 2 and 12 months old. Nonsmokers lived in 15 of the homes. Of the remaining 34 homes, 17 were occupied by smokers who tried to protect their children by smoking outdoors. The other 17 homes were occupied by smokers who made no attempt to protect their children from secondhand smoke.

Dust and surface wipe samples were collected from the living room and the child's bedroom in each of the homes. Urine and hair samples were taken from the children. Nicotine monitors were placed in the living room and the child's bedroom of each home.

Levels of tobacco contaminants in the dust, air and surface samples of homes where adults smoked outdoors were up to seven times higher than in homes of nonsmokers. Tobacco contaminant levels in the homes of indoor smokers were up to eight times higher than in the homes where adults went outside to smoke.

Infants are particularly at risk from these indoor tobacco contaminants because they spend most of their time indoors and are close to contaminated sources, the study authors say.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about secondhand smoke and children.

SOURCE: BMJ Specialist Journals, news release, Feb. 24, 2004
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