Buying a house from a smoker could prove dangerous for your health, study finds
Third hand smoke permeates furniture, carpets and walls and could prove toxic, even months after people have stopped smoking in it, scientists say
Buying a home from a smoker could increase the risk of cancer as third-hand smoke is almost impossible to remove from carpets, curtains and walls, a new study suggests.
Scientists found that exposure to the toxic chemicals that infiltrate the home could be particularly dangerous for young children prone to explore and put things in their mouths.
They said third-hand smoke residue could be absorbed into almost any porous surface, which then leaked out over time.
“We were really surprised by how persistent the contamination is in the home, even months after people have stopped smoking in it.”
Dr Georg Matt, a psychologist from San Diego State University in the US who has studied the effects of third-hand smoke for 20 years, said: “Homes become reservoirs of tobacco smoke pollutants.
“These volatile compounds soak into the drywall. Gypsum is like a bottomless pit for these toxins. Carpets are tremendous reservoirs.”
Toxic for just months after people have stopped smoking in them?
Pah!! If gypsum plaster is a ‘bottomless pit’, and the residue leaks out slowly over time, it’s hardly likely to have all leaked out after a mere six months. Or one year. Or ten years. Or a century. Or even five centuries.
Think about it. There are some houses in England where people have been smoking for hundreds of years. And that third-hand smoke residue will have completely permeated all the plaster, and all the timber, and all the bricks, and probably all the stones too.
So an Elizabethan timber frame house will have got about 450 years of third-hand smoke gradually permeating the entire fabric. It’s like an enormous vat of third-hand smoke. And it’s all going to slowly leak back out. What goes in must come out – just like what goes up must come down.
The walls could be thought of as bottomless lungs which inhale third-hand smoke, and exhale it a few hundred years later.
And of course there’s No Safe Level of the third-hand tobacco smoke that was last inhaled by the walls from Sir Francis Drake’s pipe, and is only now being exhaled, 450 years later. You do know that there’s No Safe Level, don’t you?
Clearly the only thing to do is to demolish all buildings over 10 years old. And bury all antique furniture, paintings, carpets, and clothes.
You’ve got a painting by Vincent van Gogh? It’s called ‘Sunflowers’, you say? You do know that van Gogh was a pipe smoker, don’t you? Before the paint was even dry, this painting had already absorbed copious quantities of third-hand smoke. Why do you think it’s got that yellowish colour? It’s the third-hand smoke leaking back out of it, of course! You say it’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars? Not any more! It’s worthless. I’ll give you a fiver for it, if you want it taken off your hands, as a special favour.
But the real trouble with third-hand smoke is that it never, ever goes away. It’s far worse than radioactive uranium or plutonium, because all radioactive materials have half-lives. But there’s no half-life for tobacco smoke. It just goes on and on and on for ever and ever and ever.
And even if you burn contaminated materials, all that you end up doing is releasing the trapped third-hand smoke inside them – which can’t be burned because it’s already been burned.
You really have to think of the Earth’s atmosphere as being contaminated by all the tobacco smoke that has ever been smoked. Living on planet Earth is like living inside one enormous smokers’ lung. In fact, like living inside all the lungs of all the smokers that ever lived.
You’ll have to go to Mars if you want a smoke-free world. Except that tobacco smoke can cross interplanetary space. So the entire solar system is permeated with orbiting fourth- and fifth-hand tobacco smoke. And because solar radiation pressure accelerates micron-sized fifth-hand tobacco smoke radially out into space, it’s probably got to Sirius by now.