Switch to vaping? Study shows cigarette smoke stays trapped indoors for decades

There are numerous vaping studies documenting the comparative negative health effects of secondhand smoke versus electronic cigarette vapor.  But if you are still wondering if switching to vaping is truly worth it, consider recent additional research surrounding the disturbing effects of thirdhand smoke.

Thirdhand smoke is defined as the chemical residue within the billions of individual smoke particles derived from combustible tobacco that infiltrates the furnishings of interior spaces.  The smoke gets trapped inside carpets, draperies, furniture upholstery, bedding, lampshades, and every other interior textile for decades.

According to scientists from Drexel University, these carcinogenic chemicals associated with cigarette smoke can even travel throughout the home or property using the ductwork of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC).   So, even if you’re relegating your smoking habits to a single room in the hopes of constraining its adverse effects, you may be fighting a losing battle.

Overview of Drexel University vaping study

Led by Dr. Peter DeCarlo, the Drexel study entitled Thirdhand smoke uptake to aerosol particles in the indoor environment vis published in the journal Science AdvancesThe research team began by monitoring, tracking, and evaluating the air pollution and compression levels of an unoccupied classroom for a period of one month. The room had been deemed a non-smoking space for over two decades.

Strangely, the initial objective of the study had nothing whatsoever to do with vaping or smoking.  In fact, the initial goal was to determine the types of polluting agents that somehow seem to travel indoors from the outside, like automobile exhaust or the vapors derived from the smokestacks of neighboring manufacturing plants.

After only a few days, the scientists began identifying some rather peculiar substances in the classroom air.  The chemical anomalies could not be attributed to anything found outside.  So where did these pollutants come from?

Related Article:   Vaping study: Secondhand e-cig vapor evaporates within seconds; poses no health risks

The researchers eventually determined that the noxious agents were the result of thirdhand combustible tobacco smoke that had occurred over 25-years prior.  Perhaps even more startling, approximately 29 percent of the room’s air content still contained these yucky substances two-and-a-half decades later, to which Dr. DeCarlo made the following declaration.

“To add that much additional mass through one type of process is pretty large…We didn’t expect this at all.”

However, upon further analysis, the Drexel investigators-in-training also identified a small, outdoor balcony where current-day office workers would often congregate to enjoy their daily smoking rituals.  Coincidentally, adjacent to the balcony wall was a small vent to the property’s HVAC system.  Furthermore, they also identified a small, unused office space where smoking employees would sometimes sneak cigarettes during the colder months of January and February.

The researchers determined that the microscopic, chemically-enhanced air particles from the cigarette smoke were secretly hitching teeny-tiny rides through the HVAC system and infiltrating the entire property.  And since HVAC systems pull air from the outdoors in order to work properly, the smokers’ balcony likely played an additional contributing role to the classroom’s increased toxicities levels, as well. 

If you’re still thinking that smoking is okay as long as you only do it outdoors, the Drexel study seems to suggest that you might be incredibly wrong.  Vaping, on the other hand, is 100 percent tobacco-free.  And because e-liquids contain zero tobacco, secondhand e-cig vapor is about 99 percent less carcinogenic than secondhand smoke according to research.

Related Article:   Study shows e-cig vapor is 99% less carcinogenic than secondhand smoke

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