An article published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology has concluded that changing bedsheets is a problem of global proportions, given evidence it reports that direct application of tobacco-specific nitrosamines to fetal lung extracts induces lung damage (see: Rehan VK, Sakurai R, Torday JS. Thirdhand smoke: A new dimension to the effects of cigarette smoke on the developing lung. American Journal of Physiology: Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology 2011; can have as serious or an even more negative impact on an infants' lung development as postnatal or childhood exposure to smoke."
They also conclude that "exposure to the constituents of thirdhand smoke is as damaging and, in some cases, more damaging than secondhand smoke or firsthand smoke."
Furthermore, they conclude that "prenatal disruption of lung development [by thirdhand smoke] can lead to asthma and other respiratory ailments that can last a lifetime."
Finally, the study concludes that "THS [thirdhand smoke] is a hidden toxin present in the households of smokers where pregnant women and small children live without realizing that they are being exposed to such dangerous toxicants. The same risk exists for adult workers who clean and change bed sheets in hotel rooms where cigarette smoking is allowed the world over, especially in China and other countries in Africa, Asia, South America and North America – a problem of global proportions!"
Based on the press release, international news headlines warned that "'Thirdhand' smoke hurts infant lungs" and "Thirdhand smoke dangerous to unborn babies' lungs."
The Rest of the Story
The conclusions of this study are grossly exaggerated and have almost no relationship to the actual findings of the study.
The study did not actually examine the effects of thirdhand smoke exposure at all. It merely examined, in a laboratory setting, the effects of directly treating fetal lung extracts with tobacco-specific nitrosamines.
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