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Infants At Risk From Contaminated House Dust

Infants At Risk From Contaminated House Dust

Infants of smoking parents are at risk of second-hand smoke exposure through contaminated house dust and surfaces, says a new report.

The findings, published in the Tobacco Control journal, show that when someone smokes indoors, second-hand smoke particles are absorbed into walls, furniture, clothes and other household surfaces. The particles are then re-emitted into the air over the course of hours to months.

Wellington Hospital Paediatrician Allan Farrell says this type of exposure to second-hand smoke is particularly dangerous for children.

“Kids are very active near the floor, and spend a lot of time indoors, so are in close proximity to dust and objects contaminated by second-hand smoke. This relatively low dosage can accumulate over the course of weeks to levels equivalent to several hours of active adult smoking.”

Dr Farrell says second-hand smoke exposure can trigger asthma attacks in children, and is also linked to glue ear and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

“If you smoke in the home, your child will be playing, walking, talking and eating in a contaminated environment. The negative health effects of second-hand smoke don’t just disappear after people finish their cigarette.”

Director of social marketing organisation The Health Sponsorship Council Iain Potter says the report highlights the need for parents to smoke outside, rather than in the home.

“There’s a misconception that smoking in another room can protect children, but unfortunately that’s not the case. I’m sure parents would think twice about smoking inside if they realised they were contaminating their homes.”

Mr Potter says the Health Sponsorship Council is in the process of developing a second-hand smoke media campaign, which aims to increase people’s knowledge about the dangers of smoking around children.

“Parents need to be made aware that smoking inside, even if they’re in a different room to their child, is dangerous. All it takes to protect your kid is stepping outside to have a cigarette.”

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