Thirdhand Smoke

What is thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the residue from nicotine and other chemicals that is left on furniture, carpet, clothes and other places long after smoking stops or after a person leaves a smoke filled place. The residue that you may or may not smell is made up of harmful tobacco toxins with significant health risks.9

Carpets and drapes that smell like smoke and walls and ceilings with a yellow colored stains from nicotine and tar are a few indicators that thirdhand smoke and tobacco toxins are present.10 

Vent fan and walls covered in yellow residue

Thirdhand smoke residue builds up on surfaces over time and can’t be eliminated by normal cleaning, airing out rooms, air conditioners or confining smoking to only certain areas of a home.11Decontaminating a home or vehicle that has been smoked in may require expensive professional cleaning, as it can stain walls, floors and the smell can remain in dry wall, insulation and other building components.11

Babies, children and pets are of particular concern for exposure to thirdhand smoke as they breathe or ingest toxins while they crawl on floors, sit on car seats, cuddle adults or play with toys where toxins may have built up over time.11


Revised: 10/6/21