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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

SDSU: Measuring and Reducing Exposure to Thirdhand Smoke in Multiunit Housing

From previous studies, San Diego State University School of Public Health (SDSU) researchers know that homes can be contaminated by previous smoking in the home as well as by drifting tobacco smoke, even if current residents do not and have never smoked. One of the most common questions from the general public, realtors, and others is how to clean homes that have been smoked in so that nonsmokers are not exposed to toxic tobacco smoke residue (also known as thirdhand smoke). This residue remains on walls, floors, carpet, and other surfaces, and in dust and air.

SDSU researchers plan to recruit nonsmoking residents who live in multiunit housing homes. They will collect samples to measure thirdhand smoke in the homes of these nonsmoking residents. First, they will screen homes for thirdhand smoke residue. Then, in highly polluted homes identified by screening, as well as in low-polluted homes as a comparison group, they will collect more samples to carefully measure levels of thirdhand smoke chemicals in dust, air and surfaces. Researchers will test simple devices being developed by the Thirdhand Smoke Consortium members for measuring thirdhand smoke contamination on surfaces and in air, and measure thirdhand smoke in a silicone wristband worn by a participant. They will also measure personal exposure of residents to thirdhand smoke by examining urine and saliva samples. In the most contaminated homes, researchers will also clean the homes to see if their method removes the thirdhand smoke residue. Commercial companies will apply a cleaning and remediation protocol developed by the THS Consortium to the homes and SDSU researchers will then evaluate how effective this cleaning was for removing thirdhand smoke.

The purpose of this project is to provide answers to current knowledge gaps about thirdhand smoke, including identifying chemicals of concern in thirdhand smoke, how to test for them, and how to remove them. Results of the study will be immediately useful to concerned residents, landlords, realtors, tobacco control advocates, and others. Researchers will then also be able to give practical advice about how to test for thirdhand smoke, which surfaces and areas in a home are most polluted, and how many samples should be collected to obtain an accurate measure. Simple methods that could be used by people to check their own homes and measure thirdhand smoke residue will also be tested in this study.

SDSU reasearchs plan to disseminate their findings in collaboration with the THS Consortium subproject 7, the Dissemination, Outreach, and Resource Center Core.