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Children's Health

Residual smoke and children

01/07/2009

Question:

I was asked to babysit my friends 5 month old baby on a regular basis which i would love to do but my home is a smoking home. I would of course not smoke in the house while the baby is here but I am wondering if the child is still in danger even if the home has not been smoked in for over 8 hours, is aired out and is sprayed heavily with room deoderizer before the child arrives. I would love some info on this:) thanks

Answer:

Thank you very much for the question about secondhand smoke.  As you probably already know secondhand smoke has over 4,000 chemicals many of which can irritate the nose, throat and lungs.  These chemicals tend to settle on furniture and the floors well after the smoking has ceased.  As children crawl on the floors and climb on the furniture, they tend to inhale and ingest tobacco-contaminated dust.  Using sprays or increasing room ventilation does not seem to reduce this tobacco residue. 

The Surgeon General has stated that there is no safe level of tobacco smoke exposure.  Young children appear to be particularly susceptible to secondhand smoke.  Exposure to tobacco smoke is linked to ear infections, respiratory tract infections, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  It is critical that these children should be protected from any exposure to tobacco smoke. 

I have attached a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about tobacco smoke.

Related Resources:

CDC Tobacco Smoke

For more information:

Go to the Children's Health health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Stephen E Wilson, MD, MSc Stephen E Wilson, MD, MSc
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati