Environmental tobacco smoke, better known as secondhand smoke, is the mixture of smoke that comes from the end of a burning cigarette, cigar, or pipe. Secondhand smoke is also the smoke exhaled by the smoker.
Secondhand smoke contains a mixture of more than 4,000 compounds. Most of them are strong irritants, and more than 40 of them are known to cause cancer in humans and animals.
According to a report done by the Environmental Protection Agency, secondhand smoke is responsible for about 3,000 lung cancer deaths each year in nonsmoking adults, and affects the respiratory health of over 100,000 children.
Children from parents who smoke in their presence have higher chances of getting middle ear infections, from fluid buildup, and respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Older children who have been exposed to secondhand smoke may have slightly reduced lung function.
Children with asthma are greatly affected. The EPA estimates that exposing your children to secondhand smoke increases the symptoms and the number of episodes they have. Exposure can also cause eye, nose, and throat irritation.
To reduce secondhand smoke exposure in your home, do not smoke inside your home, and do not allow others to smoke in your home. This can help, but will not eliminate the non-smoker's exposure to secondhand smoke.
If smoking does occur in your home, open windows or use exhaust fans. Ventilation will help reduce but will not eliminate exposure.
There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Any exposure is harmful!
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