Friday, February 15, 2013

About Cigarette Odor

Cigarette odor is caused by the particles and gases given off by cigarette smoke. According to an Aug. 7, 2006, article in USA Today, Professor Georg Matt of San Diego State University said that up to 90 percent of the nicotine in cigarette smoke sticks to nearby surfaces. Those surfaces include clothing, upholstery, curtains, walls, and even hair and skin. Matt's research states that these same chemicals can be swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin of nonsmokers. This odor and residue can linger for hours, days or even months. What seems like just an unpleasant odor may actually be hazardous to your health.


The odor left behind by cigarette smoke is highly unpleasant, but may also be unhealthy. University research is currently being conducted to determine just how high that risk is. Smoke residue can be inhaled by nonsmokers in hotel rooms, rental cars or apartments that have soaked up years of smoke. Babies, because they breathe faster than adults, are even more at risk of absorbing these toxic chemicals.


Cigarette smoke and the contaminants it leaves behind can leave an unpleasant smell in textiles, as well as a coating of nicotine on the fibers. Hands, particularly fingers, have a yellow cast, as do walls and hair. The danger lies in cigarette smoke's ability to soak into the skin, lungs and bloodstream, possibly causing future health problems.


Even people who smoke only out of doors still bring those contaminants indoors with them on their own clothing, skin and hair, exposing those nonsmokers around them. While Matt's research is not yet conclusive and still needs to be confirmed by further studies, his preliminary research shows that babies can absorb these chemicals just by hugging their mothers. His research also found the chemical cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine, in the urine and hair shafts of babies of parents who smoked only outside. These babies had cotinine levels seven times higher than in the infants of nonsmokers. It may seem like just an unpleasant odor, but it is so much more.


These contaminants can be removed, but because of their clinging ability, it isn't easy. Washable clothing, bedding and other textiles can be washed in detergent along with a box of baking soda. If the smell is still present after the first washing, subsequent washings with baking soda and water should remove the odor. Rugs may be cleaned with a baking soda and water solution or vinegar and water solution. Test a small out-of-the way area first before cleaning the whole rug this way. Wallpaper may need to be replaced. Walls can be washed or repainted. Draperies that are not washable should be dry cleaned. The best method of prevention, of course, is simply to prohibit smoking on the premises, and to stay away from all smokers.


Knowledge is power, and research such as Matt's can alert people to the dangers of staying in a room, car or apartment that has left-over cigarette odors. It may prevent health issues down the road.

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