Secondhand smoke is a serious threat to workplace safety and public health.
Secondhand smoke — also known as environmental tobacco smoke — includes the smoke that a smoker exhales (mainstream smoke) and the smoke that comes directly from the burning tobacco product (sidestream smoke). Secondhand smoke contains thousands of toxic chemicals, including:
- Ammonia, used in cleaning products
- Butane, used in lighter fluid
- Carbon monoxide, found in car exhaust
- Chromium, used to make steel
- Cyanide, used in chemical weapons
- Formaldehyde, an industrial chemical
- Lead, a toxic metal
- Polonium, a radioactive substance
The dangerous particles in secondhand smoke can linger in the air for hours or even longer. It isn't just the smoke that's a concern, though. The residue that clings to a smoker's hair and clothing, as well as cushions, carpeting and other goods — sometimes referred to as thirdhand smoke — also can pose risks, especially for children.
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