HEALTHY LIVING
02/03/2014 09:45 am ET Updated Feb 03, 2014

Thirdhand Smoke Leads To Organ Damage, Hyperactivity In Mice

Photo by Sabina Dimitriu via Getty Images

Thirdhand smoke, the secondhand smoke that sticks to surfaces, causes health problems in mice, a new study reveals.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, found that thirdhand smoke leads to damage to organs in mice, as well as increased wound healing time.

"There is still much to learn about the specific mechanisms by which cigarette smoke residues harm nonsmokers, but that there is such an effect is now clear," study researcher Manuela Martins-Green, a professor of cell biology at the university, said in a statement. "Children in environments where smoking is, or has been allowed, are at significant risk for suffering from multiple short-term and longer health problems, many of which may not manifest fully until later in life."

The new study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, involved exposing mice to thirdhand smoke in a lab setting. The researchers found that the thirdhand smoke spurred increased lipid levels and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in the mice, as well as increased inflammation in their lungs. The mice also had poor healing of wounds -- similar, researchers noted, to that observed in smokers post-surgery.

The mice exhibited signs of hyperactivity, as well. This specific finding, "combined with emerging associated behavioral problems in children exposed to second- and third-hand smoke suggests that with prolonged exposure, they may be at significant risk for developing more severe neurological disorders," Martins-Green said in the statement.

Last year, a lab-based study published in the journal Mutagenesis showed that thirdhand smoke leads to oxidative DNA damage. Plus, the harm that the thirdhand smoke can do only gets worse as time goes on.

"Tobacco-specific nitrosamines, some of the chemical compounds in thirdhand smoke, are among the most potent carcinogens there are," the researcher of that study, Lara Gundel, of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said in a statement. "They stay on surfaces, and when those surfaces are clothing or carpets, the danger to children is especially serious."

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