Analysis of House Dust to Determine Risk of Third-Hand Smoke Exposure
(Photo Credit: Jonathan Kantor/Getty Image)
THS is a relatively new term to describe tobacco residues left behind on clothing and surfaces after tobacco has been smoked.Nicotine, one of the most abundant compounds in tobacco smoke, can be released and then react with other atmospheric oxidants to create secondary pollutants such as tobacco-specif c nitrosamines (TSNAs). Selected TSNAs have been shown to be carcinogenic, such as 4-(methylnitrosoamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK). The authors state that exposure to THS occurs mainly through ingestion of settled house dust, and through contact with contaminated surfaces and fabrics. Co-author of the study Jacqui Hamilton told The Column: “There is a lot of skepticism about third-hand smoke exposure. We wanted to find out the concentrations of tobacco-specif c nitrosamines (TSNA) stuck to house dust samples collected from
Dust samples were collected from 46 homes between October 2011 and May 2012 in northeastern Spain, mostly from flats in urban areas. Almost half of the samples were taken from the homes of smokers, and the other half were taken from non-smoking households. Samples were extracted with pressurized-liquid extraction (PLE), and then analyzed by comprehensive gas chromatography coupled with a nitrogen chemiluminescence detector (GC×GC–NCD) to detect eight non-specific volatile N-nitrosamine, five TSNAs, and nicotine.
The compounds detected were found to be at greater concentrations in samples taken from smoking households than non-smoking households. Nicotine was also found in non-smoking households — demonstrating the reach of tobacco smoke compounds and exposure of non-smokers. Hamilton commented on the results: “These are the first quantitative measurements of TSNA in house dust. The levels were much higher in smokers homes, but we did f nd traces of tobacco smoke in all homes, even smoke free ones.” She added: “What we need is more data. We collected samples from a small number of homes. But I hope this information can be used to change people’s opinion of the potential risks of third-hand smoke.”— B.D.
1. N. Ramirez, M.Z. Ozel, A.C. Lewis, R.M. Marcé, F. Borrull, and J.F. Hamilton, Environmental International 71, 139–147 (2014).