Skip to next element

Exposure to Secondhand Smoke: How to Reduce Your Risk

The United States is moving away from smoking.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, over 40% of adults smoked in 1965. By 1985, that number was down to 30%. By 2014, the number was only 17%. 

The latest information, from 2015, shows that only 15% of adults smoke.

With increased information about the harms of tobacco use and enhanced laws prohibiting smoking in public spaces, more and more people are kicking the habit.

That’s great news!

But it doesn’t mean we’re in the clear. Secondhand smoke exposure is still a health concern, and we all need to take steps to ensure healthy air in our homes, even if we don’t smoke.

Secondhand Smoke Defined

You’ve probably heard the term tossed around a lot, but do you really know what it is exactly?

Secondhand smoke, also called passive smoking, is a term that describes the inhalation of smoke, especially tobacco smoke, without being a smoker. Second-hand smoke essentially describes the smoke that people inhale when they are near smokers, although you don’t have to be close to a smoker to be exposed to secondhand smoke.

One of the major issues with second-hand smoke centers around choice, or lack thereof.

For firsthand smoke, the smoker is choosing to inhale tobacco smoke. With secondhand smoke, the person didn’t decide to light up, but they are being exposed anyway, yet they have to deal with the consequences, and health effects, all the same.

Secondhand Smoke Exposure: A Real Look at the Risks

You probably know that secondhand smoke exposure is bad for you, but do you really know why?

Tobacco smoke is full of carcinogens, which are substances that have been linked to cancer. Of course, it’s been linked to lung cancer, and, despite significant efforts to reduce exposure, remains a risk to public health and can cause negative health effects even when you're not the one smoking.

To understand the risks of secondhand smoke, it helps to focus on some of the most important research conducted on the topic.

Non-Smokers and Their Spouses

It can be difficult to gauge whether someone has been exposed to significant amounts of second hand smoke. However, one can reasonably assume that a person married to a smoker will be exposed, at some level, to tobacco smoke.

This study looked at information from non-smokers who were married to smokers, as well as non-smokers who were married to other non-smokers. Lung cancer rates, according to the findings, were 20% more likely for women married to smokers. The results were similar for men married to women who smoke.

Interestingly, the results did not change with the amount of time they were married, but did go up with the frequency of smoking.

Passive Smoking Mortality

Another study, this one from Scotland, found that cardiorespiratory (heart and lungs) symptoms were greater in “passive smokers” than in the control group. Mortality in general was higher for people exposed to secondhand smoke, leading researchers to conclude that “exposure to environmental tobacco smoke cannot be regarded as a safe involuntary habit.”

Secondhand Smoke Exposure at Childhood Linked to Cancer

This study came from the National Cancer Institute-Maryland Lung Cancer. In this study, information on secondhand smoke exposure was collected through interviews, which was then compared to lung cancer. The results showed that secondhand smoke during childhood was likely to increase the risk of lung cancer among people who have never smoked.

There are certainly more studies that we could reference; just look at this broad research survey conducted by the Surgeon General in 2006. This article looked at 194 different studies and concluded that numerous studies have essentially arrived at the same conclusion: lung cancer is harmful for our health. From mild asthma to life-threatening lung cancer, the scientific community agrees that exposure to secondhand smoke should be avoided.

Thirdhand Smoke: A Hidden Risk

There is another risk from smoking that affects people who never use tobacco products: thirdhand smoke. Thirdhand smoke is essentially the residual leftovers of tobacco smoke, and research shows that it contains many, if not all, of the same carcinogens found in visible smoke from a recent cigarette.

When someone smokes, you can see the second-hand smoke in the air, but when that smoke is done, it’s not completely gone. In fact, the particles that make up the smoke will eventually settle on surfaces. This is what we now know as third-hand smoke. Thirdhand smoke can stay in place for decades, making it a concern for people buying houses or used vehicles.

This is another risk for families across the country, and it’s another reason why everyone needs to take the right measures to clean their indoor air.

Reducing your Risk to Secondhand Smoke

If you haven’t noticed, secondhand smoke is bad for you. So, what can you do about it?

Fortunately, there are lots of steps you can take to make sure you and your family are not exposed to this harmful substance.

The first, and most obvious measure, is to quit smoking altogether. Any smoker will testify that this is never an easy step, but if you can drop the habit, you’ll go a long way towards enhancing your overall health and reducing the risk of cancer for both yourself and the people around you. According to one study, even if you never smoke inside, the toxins are still detectable in your house.

If you live in a state that still allows smoking in restaurants and bars, try to frequent areas that prohibit smoking. While anti-smoking laws are becoming more common, there are still areas that allow smoking in businesses and work places. If possible, avoid these areas and let ownership and management know that you’d be more likely to visit if smoking was not allowed.

Make it clear to any smoker that visits your house that all smoking should be done outdoors. The toxins from cigarette smoke can linger in the air for hours, the smell can last for days, and the residue will be present for decades. Tell them to light up outside and you’ll have a much cleaner home.

If you feel like taking measures to protect both your own health and the health of people around you, consider supporting measures that prohibit smoking in areas of work, public area, and places like restaurants and bars.

According to the CDC, numerous studies have demonstrated that these laws do in fact reduce the level of cotinine, which is a marker for the presence of secondhand smoke. Supporters of these laws argue that the measures help protect nonsmokers from the involuntary exposure to tobacco and its inherent risks.

“Smoke Eaters”: Understanding the Options

To clean the air in your home, you may also consider the use of a smoke eater. Smoke eaters come in many different shapes and sizes, and understanding the right type for your house is essential.

There are many different types of smoke eater technologies that can be used to effectively clean and purify the air in your home. Some, however, are better than others.

An electronic and electrostatic smoke eater, for example, uses electrical charges to create a static cling in smoke particles. The particles are then grabbed through static cling and removed from the air. Unfortunately, this type of smoke eater produces ozone, making it harmful for indoor use.

Ozone generators, as you might have guessed, release ozone into the air. Ozone can be effective for destroying smoke odors, mold spores, and other unwanted particles because it disrupts matter at the cellular level. However, ozone can also harm the cells of humans, making it an undesirable indoor machine.

One of the best technologies for smoke eaters is activated carbon. This is essentially highly-porous material that can grab and hold material. Because of the extremely small pores, activated carbon has a massive surface space, allowing it to capture large amounts of particles.

Using Air Purifiers to Reduce Secondhand Smoke

If you have lingering smoke in your home, or if you are concerned with smoke particles entering the home on your clothes, then you should take steps to reduce indoor air pollution by using one of the best air purifiers for smoke removal.

Mod+ Air Purifier

Collecting smoke particles from the air is no problem for the mod+ air purifier, one of the most effective units you can find on the market. This purifier a high efficiency air filter and a strong motor. This means superior cleaning for mold spores, dust, and (of course) smoke. With the ability to clean up to a 1,361-square-foot room with 2 air changes an hour, this purifier can be used in offices, living rooms, and even basements.

Oransi has the Right Air Purifier for Removing Secondhand Smoke

Oransi can help you determine the right air cleaner for your needs. Contact us today and we’ll make sure you make an informed, confident decision on your air purification.      

Whether you need to remove secondhand smoke and odor or reduce household allergens, we have the right purifiers to create a clean, healthy home.