Thirdhand smoke contamination in hospital settings: assessing exposure risk for vulnerable paediatric patients (Tobacco Control Journal)
A new study published December 3, 2015 in Tobacco Control Journal suggests that thirdhand smoke contamination in hospital settings holds exposure risk for vulnerable paediatric patients. Thirdhand smoke (THS) is easily transported and deposited indoors, where it persists and exposes individuals for months, creating potential health consequences in seemingly nicotine-free environments, particularly for vulnerable patients.
The lead author of the study, “Thirdhand smoke contamination in hospital settings: assessing exposure risk for vulnerable paediatric patients ” is Dr. Thomas F Northup from the University of Texas Health Science center at Houston. Participants were mothers who smoked and had an infant in the NICU. Participants provided surface nicotine samples from their fingers, infants’ crib/ incubator and hospital-provided furniture. Infant urine was analysed for cotinine, cotinine’s major metabolite.
Important findings according to the study include:
- Greater variability across other factors likely to be associated with surface nicotine and urine outcomes
- Participants tended to report light smoking (<10 cigarettes/ day)
- Incubators/cribs and other furniture had detectable surface nicotine
- Results highlight THS’s pervasiveness, even in closely guarded healthcare settings
- Detectable levels of cotinine, 3HC and NNAL were found in the infants’ urine.
In conclusion, the research highlights thirdhand smoke’s pervasiveness, even in closely guarded healthcare settings. Researchers also conclude that future work is needed to understand exposures and health consequences in such a vulnerable population.
Read the study in the Tobacco control Journal.