This article I wrote after becoming very ill from my west end Johnstown neighbor’s smoke which filtered into my apartment. As I researched, a learned a great deal about how second and third hand smoke makes non smokers sick.
Third-Hand Smoke: The Hidden Danger to Apartment Living
Neighbors Smoking Tobacco, Drugs Literally Makes You Sick
In search for the answer, I remember my college days when I very briefly experimented with tobacco under peer influence. I know what tobacco does to me; none of my symptoms overlap with that.
Continuing my quest to understand this sudden illness accompanying the stench, I come across an August 11th article by Aaron Brachfeld on something called “third hand smoke.”
Third hand smoke is smoke you neither take in directly nor inhale from close physical proximity such as being in the same room as the smoker. This includes any air you may share — including and especially the air in apartment buildings, townhouses, condominiums, co-ops, and other residential communities.
The effects of third-hand smoke depends on exactly which drug or drugs are in the smoke and how much exposure is required to physically affect you, your family, and your companion animals (companion birds, then human infants and pre-natal humans being the most intensely affected at the lowest levels of exposure). With regards to third hand exposure to marijuana, Colorado-based journalist Aaron Bachfeld cites,
” 3rd and 2nd hand exposure is potent. 3rd hand exposure usually results in something in the neighborhood of 1/100 of the dose received by 2nd hand exposure. 3rd hand is accomplished by inhalation, ingestion and osmosis: particulates bind to dust or dirt or clothing or whatever, and are consumed as well as breathed. This dust also allows it to enter the blood through the skin. Furthermore, the effect increases as more particles are ingested and inhaled, creating an increasing effect. The particles, even when not ingested, inhaled or touched, result in exposure: off gassing by the dust created by the use or storage of aerosols creates gasses which are then inhaled – even without dust as a carrier. (Third-hand smoking: indoor measurements of concentration and sizes of cigarette smoke particles after resuspension, M H Becquemin, et al. Tob Control 2010;19:347-348 doi:10.1136/tc.2009.034694, and Indoor Air Pollution: Problems and Priorities, edited by G. B. Leslie, F. W. Lunau, 1992, etc.).”
On September 2nd, 2012, in the midst of Colorado’s consideration of legalizing marijuana, Mr. Bachfeld cautioned,
“Marijuana has been and remains a valuable tool against disease for many doctors, and the public should never prevent the use of medicine. Yet the abuse of marijuana is prevalent, and preventing that abuse is impossible except by a path of limited tolerance.
There are numerous dangers to marijuana, and not just to the user who exposes themselves to higher cancer rates (even if it is not smoked), diabetes, psychological disorders (depression, anxiety and schizophrenia are inevitable with long-term use of marijuana due to permanent changes to the brain caused by the drug), heart disease and other disease. The high cost of legally grown marijuana makes it difficult to afford, leading to demand for illegally grown marijuana.
With this in mind, there is an urgency to regulate through governmental control the growth of marijuana. And when even proponents of legalization admit that legalization will not likely reduce illegal grow operations, but increase them (just because stronger and safer marijuana is grown in legal labs does not mean that people will stop buying inferior marijuana if it is cheaper), we must admit that the dangers and responsibilities of marijuana use belong to all Americans, and it is right that that regulation should be placed wholly in the hands of the public.”
While marijuana was likely (though wholly untested and unproven) the culprit of my illness on Monday, smoking any drug — including tobacco — holds dangers to those who breathe it. Since we cannot control the distribution or concentrations of airborne chemicals, all smoke from all substances create numerous and wide-spread hazards to the health and well-being of everyone within a certain chemical proximity of the smoker.
Or, put another way, there is no such thing as “safe” smoke — to the user or anyone else. All smoking of all substances holds health risks extending well beyond the person who lights up. Second and third hand smoke kill. Who will be next to die?
For more information, please consult:
Having symptoms*? Don’t ignore them; seek out professional medical help for evaluation and treatment options for you, your family, and your companion animals.
*If you are exposed to second or third hand smoke, consuming a high fiber diet may help your body eliminate some of the toxins from your body. High fiber parrot foods include sunflower seeds, almonds, and other nuts. If your bird suddenly starts craving high quantities of these, she could be instinctively trying to eliminate smoke toxins from her body, much as her wild cousins use clay licks to counteract toxins found in their diets.