2017 17 MAG
Type of content: news
Communicative register:
Focus area: Physicians - Family

Second-hand and Third-hand Smoke: how to draw exposure in children?

Nicotine on hands may serve as a proxy of tobacco smoke exposure

Persistent residue from Second-hand Smoke (SHS) accumulates in objects, on home surfaces and on smokers’ skin and clothes.  More recently, it has been shown that nicotine accumulates on surfaces, persisting for weeks or months, and it can react with gaseous compounds producing  scarcely volatile substances that may be deposited in indoor environments and on the skin (Third-hand Smoke, THS). Therefore, exposure to SHS results from involuntary inhalation of 'active' smoke, whereas exposure to THS results from inhalation, ingestion or involuntary dermal absorption of pollutants present in the air, dust, and surfaces. A study recently published on “Tobacco control” showed that children of smokers, even when not exposed to SHS, carry nicotine on their hands that are significant associated with salivary cotinine. Consequently, hand nicotine may be a marker of tobacco smoke exposure and it might be proxy of THS exposure. Future work should differentiate how much SHS and THS contribute to overall tobacco smoke exposure and how they affect children health in order to finalize the best prevention and control strategies.

Ref: Mahabee-Gittens EM, et al. Preliminary evidence that high levels of nicotine on children's hands may contribute to overall tobacco smoke exposure. Tob Control. 2017 Mar 30. pii: tobaccocontrol-2016-053602.[Epub ahead of print]

Article by Giuliana Ferrante