7 Ways to Protect Baby from the Third Hand Smoke


Does your child have respiratory problems like asthma, cough, and pneumonia? Then it’s time for you to know third hand smoke. It is a surprising danger same as firsthand and secondhand smoking.

Everyone is aware of secondhand smoke which occurs as a result of inhaling the smoke from the air surrounding you. Here is another danger, i.e. third hand smoke that you need to know. Both secondhand smoke and third hand smoke are known to show adverse effects on your kid’s health.

This article discusses the third hand smoke in infants and babies. It also discusses the effects and dangers that third hand smoke imparts to children. At the end of the article you will find the ways and tips to get rid of third hand smoke in babies.

What Is Meant By Third Hand Smoke In Infants/Babies?


Third hand smoke in infants refers to the condition where they come across the residual exposure via surfaces that have encountered smoke.

It also affects the kids when the infants come in contact with the surfaces having nicotine residues on them. Such surfaces may include:

• Cloths
• Floor
• Furniture
• Toys
• Vehicles and toys

Combination of third hand smoke with indoor pollutants may cause serious health effects.

How Does Third Hand Smoke Affect Infants?


Smoke imposes many adverse effects on the health. Cigarettes are the host for more than 5,000 chemicals. Many of them are toxic which include arsenic, formaldehyde, tar, and many chemicals that can be found in manufacturing and processing facilities. Being a non smoker it may be difficult for you to avoid the effects of second hand and third hand smoke especially if you have a smoker in your home.

Researchers found that children are at the highest risk of third hand smoke as they frequently touch nicotine contaminated objects. Children often put their hands in the mouth or put their mouth on the household objects exposed to smoke.

Here are the few dangers of thirdhand smoke to infants:

1. Cancer:

Researchers investigated that the third hand smoke may cause some puzzling cancers. When a person smokes in a car or in the living room, toxic chemicals like nicotine may cling to the walls, furniture, clothes etc. When this nicotine interacts with air borne chemicals, it forms carcinogens which can cause cancer. One study noticed that thirdhand smoke is one of the trigger for childhood cancers.

Adults are at the greatest risk of lung cancer. Third hand smoke exposure may lead to the bladder, cervix, kidneys, mouth, pancreas, and throat cancers in adults.

2. Damages DNA:

One research found that exposure to third hand may cause DNA damage or breakdown.

NNA, which is a very important component of thirdhand smoke reacts with the DNA bases. NNA is the tobacco-specific nitrosamine that is rarely found in freshly emitted secondhand smoke.

3. Asthma:

It is a chronic condition which blocks the airways. Asthma makes it hard for the children to breathe. This blockage occurs when the allergens and smoke come in contact with the airway passages. Asthma may be because of genes and environment.

Symptoms of asthma include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness of chest
  • Rapid breathing

4. Ear Infections:

A middle ear infection results from the infection in the fluid behind the eardrum. Symptoms of an ear infection may include fever, runny nose, irritability, or loss of appetite.

5. Pneumonia:

It is one of the effects of third hand smoke on infants. It is a lung infection which causes the air sacs to get inflamed. It causes lungs to fill up with fluid or pus. It severity of the symptoms may range from mild to severe. Symptoms of Pneumonia may include cough, fever, mucus while coughing, difficulty breathing, chills, and chest pain. Some people may experience nausea, diarrhea, vomiting.

Pneumonia results from the virus or bacteria. When lungs are infected they may fail to perform the routine task well. Activation of innate immune system is blocked by the exposure to the bacterial infection resulting from the smoke exposure. This activity makes the adults most vulnerable to pneumonia.

6. Retards Brain Development:

Third hand smoke may show greater adverse impact on the brain development of infants as the brain is very sensitive to toxic substances.

Study conducted by the National center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) suggested that the Children of the younger ages are at the risk of long term effects of tobacco exposure because of their immature neural circuitry.

7. Cognitive Deficits:

Active smokers are at the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Secondhand and thirdhand smoking may have effects similar to that of active smoking. Secondhand and Thirdhand smoke are known to reduce cognitive performance in children as per the study conducted by NCBI.

8. Health Effects Due to TSNAs:

Nicotine present in the cigarette smoke reacts with the common air pollutant known as nitrous acid and produces carcinogenic tobacco specific nitrosamines (TSNAs).

Humans exposed to the TSNAs either by dust inhalation or direct contact of the skin. Crawling infants and toddlers are at the risk of being affected by TSNAs.

Causes Of Third Hand Smoke In Infants/Babies:


Here are the few causes that causes third hand smoke in infants:

Through Active/Passive smoker:

If you have a active smoker or the person who have direct contact with active smokers in your home then your baby most likely to be affected by the third hand smoke.


Third smoke infectants may cling to the walls of the rooms, furniture, and clothes. Even if your baby is not in the car or in the living room while you are smoking they may be at the risk of smoking as nicotin is known to survive over the surfaces for a longer duration.

Ways to Protect Baby/Infants from Third Hand Smoke:


Here are the few things that parents can do to reduce the risk of their kids being affected by the third hand smoke:

1) Quit Smoking:

Quitting is the best thing that parents can do for the well being and health of their kids and themselves. Make sure that no one in your home smokes near to your kids or in the enclosed area of your home.

2) Make your home and car smoking free:

Even if the smoker gives up smoking, the toxic substances may rest on the surfaces for longer times. Make sure to paint the walls and change the furniture in home after a smoker has quit.

3) Visit Smoke Free Area:

This is one of the best ways to eliminate thirdhand smoke around your baby. If you plan to visit the places with your baby, choose the places where smoking is strictly prohibited.

Parents should protect their kids from the dangers of environmental tobacco smoke. Parents awareness plays a vital role in securing their babies from the evil effects of the third hand smoke.

4) Wash clothes regularly:

Regularly wash the clothes of everyone in your home. Soak the clothes in warm water before washing. This tip will help to protect third hand smoke clothing infants from the hazardous affects of nicotine.

Doormats need to be washed regularly as they are the host for most of the infectants. Soak the doormats overnight in warm water before washing.

5) Aware of the environment outside your home:

While visiting your friend’s or relative’s home with you baby, make sure that the space is smoking free area. Consider the hygiene accommodation while travelling with your baby.

6) Bath your pets frequently:

Pets host the bacteria and chemicals in their fur. When your kids play with the contaminated pet the infectants may easily spread to your baby causing many health disorders.

Whenever your kid plays with the pet make sure it had a bath.

7) Stay away from the smoke in work environment:

It is one of the best ways to get rid of third hand smoke. If you work in an environment where people smoke even if don’t, make sure to have a bath as soon as you reach home before playing with your baby. Remove the outer layers like jackets. Don’t wear the same clothes again without washing.

Tips to Protect Your Baby From Third hand Smoke Effects:

There is no safe level of exposure to the smoke of cigarettes. Third hand smoke hosts more than 250 chemicals. Neither airing out the rooms nor limiting the smoking only to certain areas of the home help in eliminating the third hand smoke. Here are the few tips to remove the residues from your home:

  • Rinse all the clothes in warm water before washing
  • Smoking in front of window or smoking in the room with fans can’t help to eliminate third hand smoke.
  • Bath your pets regularly.
  • Wash all the linens and bed sheets
  • Scrub the walls and ceilings
  • Sponge all the surfaces thoroughly with disinfectants.
  • As the carpets are well known source for bacteria get them professionally cleaned
  • Clean the toys
  • Wash the fabrics in your home and in the car.
  • Do not let anyone to use E-cigarette in your car, home or near your kids or pets.
  • Label no smoking sign in your living room to acknowledge your guests that your home is a smoke free area.
  • Don’t smoke inside the car even when the doors are open.
  • Frame your smoking times when your kids are away from you.
  • Quitting smoking is the best choice that you can do as a parent.

In conclusion, exposure of your baby either to active or passive smoking will have many adverse effects. Give up smoking and protect your baby from the evil effects of smoking by following tips and precautions.