Secondhand Smoke (cont.)

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What causes secondhand smoke?

Cigarettes are the most common sources of secondhand smoke, followed by cigars and pipe smoke. People can be exposed to environmental tobacco smoke anywhere - in their homes, in the workplace, and in recreational settings.

What are the health risks of secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke carries many health risks. At least 250 harmful chemicals have been identified in secondhand smoke, including at least 50 carcinogens (chemicals that are known to cause cancer). Just some of the dangerous chemicals present in secondhand smoke include vinyl chloride, cadmium, benzene, arsenic, and ethylene oxide.

Secondhand smoke is known to cause cancer. It has been classified as a "known human carcinogen" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is also associated with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases as well as other serious health conditions; several are listed below.

Lung cancer and secondhand smoke

Passive smoking is an established risk factor for the development of lung cancer. Research has shown that nonsmokers who reside with a smoker have an increased risk for developing lung cancer when compared with nonsmokers who do not reside with a smoker.

Cardiovascular disease and secondhand smoke

Like cigarette smoking itself, secondhand smoke is a significant risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease and heart attack.

Other lung diseases and secondhand smoke

Reader Stories

Coughing, chest congestion, and decreased lung function can also occur in those exposed to passive smoke. Babies exposed to secondhand smoke can also develop serious respiratory infections. Passive smoking is believed to cause lung infections (such as pneumonia and bronchitis) in children younger than 18 months of age each year.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/1/2014

Secondhand Smoke Pictures Slideshow: The Dangers and Effects

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Secondhand Smoke - Experience Question: Please share your experience with secondhand smoke.
Secondhand Smoke - Lung Diseases Question: Do you have a lung disease related to secondhand smoke? Please discuss your symptoms and experience.
Secondhand Smoke - What to do Question: If you are a non-smoker, in what ways have you limited exposure to secondhand smoke?
Secondhand Smoke - Thirdhand Smoke Question: If you understand the concept of thirdhand smoke, describe how you've dealt with the accumulation.