Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Results Of Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke
is exhaled from cigarettes, cigars or pipes and is made up of deadly gases and particles. According to a study by the National Toxicology Program, secondhand smoke contains about 250 toxic chemicals. It found that nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke, whether in the home, workplace, or other areas, have many of the same conditions as smokers, primarily cancer and heart and lung diseases. The effects of secondhand smoke are frightening and deadly, for both humans and animals.

Pregnant Women

Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for pregnant women. According to the University of Minnesota's Division of Periodontology, a pregnant woman who inhales secondhand smoke will pass nicotine on to the unborn baby. Inhaling secondhand smoke during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, infants with low birth weight and infants with decreased lung functions. The American Lung Association states that almost 500 deaths from sudden infant death syndrome are because of secondhand smoke.


Children exposed to secondhand smoke may experience asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia. The ALA found that secondhand smoke causes up to 15,000 respiratory infections in children annually. Secondhand smoke increases the buildup of fluids in the ear, making ear and sinus infections more likely. According to the ALA, about 50 to 75 percent of children in the United States have cotinine in their blood. Cotinine, a chemical byproduct of nicotine, is a metabolite that indicates how much exposure to smoke an individual has had.

Diseases and Conditions

According to the U.M. study, nonsmokers may suffer many of the same diseases as smokers when secondhand smoke is inhaled over long periods of time. Women who have never smoked but live with a smoker have twice the risk of dying from lung cancer over other women, and a 91 percent higher risk of developing heart disease. Nonsmokers may become exhausted more easily and their heart rate is increased, causing more heart strain.


There are several ways pets may be affected by smoking, whether by ingestion or inhalation. Health problems that may result are breathing problems, diarrhea, vomiting, and cardiac difficulties. The Utah Tobacco Prevention program found lymphoma is likely to occur in cats, while lung and nasal cancer are common in dogs. Eating less than five cigarettes is possibly deadly for any animal.


To decrease the effects, limit your exposure to secondhand smoke. According to the Center for Disease Control, any exposure will have effects on your health. The CDC states that nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at work increase their risk for lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent, and the heart disease risk increases by 25 to 30 percent. Although nonsmoking policies are becoming more common, the main businesses that may have secondhand smoke are restaurants, casinos and hotels.

If you live with a smoker, encourage him to smoke outdoors or quit. If you are a smoker and have pets or children, smoke outdoors or consider quitting altogether.

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