Kids carry significant levels of nicotine on their hands, just by coming into contact with surfaces
MOST parents who smoke will be aware of the dangers of lighting up around their little ones.
Second-hand smoke can increase a person’s risk of various cancers, heart disease and other nasty illnesses.
But now, scientists are warning of the third-hand dangers of smoking.
They found kids carry significant levels of nicotine on their hands.
And tests showed they picked it up just by coming into contact with items or surfaces contaminated with smoke, even if no one was actively smoking at the time.
Dr Melinda Mahabee-Gittens, from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, warned: “This is the first study to show that children’s hands hold high levels of nicotine even when parents are not smoking around them.
“Parents may think that not smoking around their child is enough, but this is not the case.
“These findings emphasise that the only safe way to protect children from smoke exposure is to quit smoking and ban smoking in the home.”
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This pilot study, published in the BMJ journal Tobacco Control, looked at 25 kids, and is now being followed up by a larger analysis of 700 youngsters.
The initial study found significant nicotine on the hands of kids.
But tests then found equally significant levels of the harmful tobacco substance, cotinine in their saliva.
Exposure to these substances can cause numerous health problems in babies and kids, health experts warn.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists respiratory and ear infections, more frequent and severe asthma attacks, and other nasty ailments.
The average age of the kids taking part was five.
And researchers used special hand wipes to extract nicotine from their hands, and took saliva samples as well.
All of the kids had nicotine on their hands, and all but one had traces of cotinine in their saliva.
The researchers warned house dust and surfaces are key sources of exposure for pesticides and other toxic substances in young kids.
Dr Mahabee-Gittens pointed out all kids have a tendency to put things in their mouths.
Past studies have shown persistent residue from secondhand smoke accumulates in dust, on home surfaces, on smokers’ clothes and on household objects like kids’ toys.
The next step is to look at how much secondhand and third-hand smoke contribute to overall tobacco exposure in kids, and the impact on their health.
And the researchers said they want to look at preventative measures for better protecting kids from tobacco exposure.
In light of the findings, it may just be safer to quit smoking altogether!
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