Health Dangers of “Third-Hand Smoke”

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Riverside has found the effects of third-hand tobacco smoke may be just as deadly as first-hand smoke.

Unlike first-hand smoke inhaled by a smoker, or second-hand smoke consisting of exhaled smoke and other substances emitting from a burning cigarette, third-hand smoke is the second-hand smoke imparted to the surfaces of objects. Over time, these residues can age and slowly become more noxious.

“We studied, on mice, the effects of third-hand smoke on several organ systems under conditions that simulated third-hand smoke exposure of humans,” said Manuela Martins-Green, a professor of cell biology who led the study. “We found significant damage occurs in the liver and lung. Wounds in these mice took longer to heal. Further, these mice displayed hyperactivity.”

The study’s results sets the tone for investigations on the toxic effects of third-hand smoke in humans and may inform potential regulatory policies aimed at preventing involuntary contact with third-hand smoke.

Third-hand smoke is also a possible health threat to children, spouses of smokers and workers in environments where smoking has been allowed. Contamination of smokers’ homes is high, both on surfaces and in dust. Re-emission of nicotine from polluted indoor surfaces can lead to nicotine exposure similar to that of smoking.


“The Effects of Third-Hand Smoke, “Environmental News Network, January 31, 2014,

Manuela Martins-Green, et al., “Cigarette Smoke Toxins Deposited on Surfaces: Implications for Human Health,” PLoS One, January 29, 2014,

Student Researcher: Kristyn Pilgrim (Florida Atlantic University)
Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)