January 11, 2009

Third-Hand Smoke Study

(Boston, Massachusetts) Prefacing a study led by Dr. Jonathan Winickoff of Harvard Medical School is that babies and young children are harmed by "third-hand smoke" which is defined as toxins left on surfaces after the smoke has cleared. The danger of the toxins, or clinging pollutants, was not addressed by the study, rather the study polled the public to determine how many people agree with Dr. Winickoff.

Therefore, the Winickoff study is a focus group-type effort to collect baseline data ostensibly for future socio-political initiatives. The medical study was simply a public opinion poll.

In a nutshell, I gather that people were asked if they thought it was more harmful for children to lick table surfaces in rooms where someone had smoked vs. licking table surfaces in rooms where there was no smoking. Results varied depending on who was asked.

Frankly, I believe it's a bad idea for kids to lick tables in the first place but, if never-say-no parents want to allow it, the licking tables should always be sponged clean first. Also, I'd suggest that the risks associated with ingesting harmful bacteria during table-licking far outweigh the supposed danger from dusty smoke residue.

In any event, the Winickoff public opinion study is being reported by the mainstream media as finding that third-hand smoke is harmful. Every article I've read says that researchers found third-hand smoke to be harmful.

On the contrary, the study assumes that third-hand smoke is harmful without supporting the assertion and then people are asked what they think. Realistically, the study found nothing about third-hand smoke. It merely collected opinions. (more)

By at 11:07 AM | Comments |