Scientists have uncovered a new cause of SIDS and they’ve also linked it to reduced intelligence. Third-hand smoke has only recently been labeled and scientists are in the early stages of studying it. New research has shown cigarette smoke (second-hand or third-hand) can cause sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). One or more of the chemicals in cigarettes has also been linked to diminished IQ.
Will Avoiding Cigarette Smoke Keep You Safe?
Do you step outside to smoke to protect your family, especially your kids? Sadly, simply keeping them away from the smoke is not enough. Invisible particles fall from the smoke and stick to your clothes, your hair and your skin. You can still transfer toxins to others after you stop smoking, and that’s third-hand smoke. It’s almost impossible to eliminate from your car, your furniture, your carpet, etc. And, the particles can go back into the air. Are you willing to let your child inhale or ingest harmful third-hand smoke?
The “Smoking Gun” in Diminished IQ
Cigarette smoke emits over 4,000 toxins, and about 250 of them make up third-hand smoke particles. Eleven of cigarette’s chemicals are known to cause cancer, like arsenic and lead. Unfortunately, lead doesn’t stop at cancer. It’s also linked to birth defects and reproductive harm. Did you know that even a small amount of exposure to this substance can lead to diminished IQ?
A child’s developing brain is highly susceptible to even extremely low toxin levels. Compared to adults, infants and children ingest much more third-hand smoke. These toxins stick to your furniture and floors. “Rug rats,” as they’re affectionately called, spend a lot of time in close contact with fabric furniture and carpet and rugs. If you have a teething child, he or she could be ingesting even more toxins. And, because they weigh less than grown-ups, kids’ relative exposure can be up to 20 times greater than exposure for adults.
What May Link Cigarette Smoke to SIDS
Experiments with rats suggest that tobacco toxin exposure is the leading cause of SIDS. Scientists think it’s due to respiratory suppression. And, cigarettes actually contain something used in chemical weapons – cyanide. Once cyanide is inhaled, it competes with hemoglobin (oxygen-carrying molecules) in the blood. Affected tissues will get an insufficient amount of oxygen.
How to Eliminate Third-hand Smoke
Just because you don’t see the cigarette smoke doesn’t mean that you’ve eliminated third-hand smoke. According to pediatrician Jonathan Winickoff, “Third-hand smoke remains after the cigarette has been extinguished.” Winickoff coined the term “third-hand smoke.”
The toxins emitted from cigarette smoke adhere and build up over time so they resist normal cleaning. Opening windows, using air conditioners or fans, or confining smoking to certain areas of a home doesn’t help. Research suggests that the only way to eradicate third-hand smoke is to create a smoke-free environment.