Residue in walls and ceilings could pose harm to new residents who move into former smokers' homes, HealthDay News reports.
Researchers at San Diego State University found that "third-hand smoke" was found on surfaces even after the homes had been vacant for two months and cleaned and repainted.
"We found that third-hand smoke is trapped on surfaces like walls and ceilings and in household dust and carpets left over by previous residents," study author Georg Matt, a psychology professor at the university said in a university news release.
Matt added that the homes of smokers become reservoirs of tobacco smoke pollutants. When new, non-smoking tenants come in contact with polluted surfaces and inhale suspended microscopic dust, they are unknowingly exposed to tobacco smoke toxins.
In the study, Matt's research team examined the homes of 50 nonsmokers and 100 smokers before and after they moved out. They measured levels of nicotine on surfaces within the homes, in the air and on participants' fingers.
The researchers found higher levels of tobacco-linked contamination in dust and surfaces of homes formerly inhabited by smokers versus nonsmoker homes. Levels of nicotine on fingers were also higher among new residents of former smokers' homes.
This study correlates to a recent one conducted by the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and the University of Rochester Medical Center that concluded children living in non-smoking apartments were exposed to smoke from neighbors' apartments that seeped through walls or traveled through building ventilation systems.
The health outcomes of “third-hand smoke” have not been assessed, the California researchers stated in their news release, but they suspect that the residues could pose risks to babies and toddlers.