A recent study completed by a research team at San Diego State University highlights the dangers of third hand smoke to new residents of homes previously occupied by a smoker. If you’ve stayed in a hotel room where smoking is allowed or driven a rental car previously driven by a smoker, you can tell and it is not pretty. But some landlords or home sellers may think they are fixing the problem by painting walls and cleaning carpets.
The study reveals that tobacco residues can linger for up to three months and that makes it easy for new residents to ingest them. The tobacco leftovers are called third hand smoke and they can pose dangers to the new residents exposed to them. The team focused on residues found on surfaces, on the fingers of residents, in the urine of children, and in dust found in the homes, with measurements taken just before smokers moved out and about a month after new residents moved in. The homes had been vacant for approximately 60 days allowing for cleaning and in some cases, new paint and flooring.
The study results are not encouraging for new non-smoking residents. Nicotine dust in living and sleeping areas was five times higher in residences previously occupied by smokers and nicotine was seven times higher in such areas. These pollutants can be transferred to and inhaled by new residents, thereby exposing them to their carcinogenic properties. The lesson? Ask questions about prior residents and push for remediation if it really is the home of your dreams.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.