Exposure to the toxins in secondhand smoke can cause asthma, cancer and other serious problems. Know what you're breathing — and consider practical steps for clearing the air.
You don't smoke because you understand the dangers — but what about secondhand smoke? Secondhand smoke causes or contributes to various health problems, including heart disease, lung disease and various types of cancer. Understand what's in secondhand smoke, and consider ways to protect yourself and those you love from secondhand smoke.
The dangerous particles in secondhand smoke can linger in the air for hours or even longer. It isn't just the smoke that's a concern, though. The residue that clings to a smoker's hair and clothing, as well as cushions, carpeting and other goods — sometimes referred to as thirdhand smoke — also can pose risks, especially for children.
How risky is secondhand smoke?
Secondhand smoke causes or contributes to serious health problems, including:
Lung disease. Exposure to secondhand smoke can aggravate respiratory conditions — especially for people who have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Heart disease. Secondhand smoke damages blood vessels and interferes with circulation, which increases the risk of heart disease and heart attack. A new Mayo Clinic study suggests that secondhand smoke also increases the risk of sudden cardiac death.
Cancer. Secondhand smoke is a known risk factor for lung cancer. In addition, secondhand smoke contains benzene — which increases the risk of leukemia.
Secondhand smoke: Avoid dangers in the air