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The Health Hazards Associated with Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

The health hazards of exposure to secondhand smoke are well recognized by experts in the healthcare field. Secondhand smoke is the tobacco pollution resulting from burning tobacco. There are two forms of secondhand or passive smoke, mainstream smoke and sidestream smoke. Mainstream smoke is that which a smoker exhales. Sidestream smoke is the smoke which comes directly from the burning tobacco product. Either form unfortunately is harmful to innocent individuals who involuntarily engage in passive smoking as a result of it the tobacco pollution caused by the willful smoker.

If it were not bad enough that nicotine which is a powerfully addictive substance with harmful health effects is present in passive smoke, tobacco also produces more than 4000 chemicals of which 250 are toxic. Worse yet, 50 of the chemicals in passive smoke are felt to be carcinogenic or cancer-causing. Some of those carcinogenic chemicals are as follows:

• Benzene -- A component of gasoline
• Formaldehyde -- A chemical used for embalming corpses
• Hydrogen cyanide -- A highly poisonous gas used in chemical weapons
• Carbon monoxide - A gas in automobile exhaust

In 2006 the Surgeon General issued a report concluding that secondhand smoke can kill and that no amount of passive smoke exposure is safe. The report also concluded that the more passive smoke one breathes in, the greater the health risks.

Some alarming statistics relating to secondhand smoke exposure are as follows:

• In the United States alone 126 million people who don't smoke are exposed to passive smoke at home and/or at work.
• In the United States 50,000 people per year die because of passive smoke exposure.
• In the United States approximately 3000 deaths per year occur because of lung disease in non-smokers caused by secondhand smoke exposure.
• Secondhand smoke exposure increases non-smokers’ risk of developing lung cancer by between 20% and 30% and their risk of developing heart disease by 25% to 30%.
• Exposure to passive smoke causes the development of respiratory conditions such as pneumonia and bronchitis in between 150,000 and 300,000 children under the age of 18 months, of which between 7,500 and 15,000 require hospitalization.
• More than 40% of children who require visits to emergency rooms for severe asthma attacks live in homes where smoking occurs.

Given the alarming facts and statistics about the harmful effects associated with the exposure to secondhand smoke, it is important to determine your degree of exposure if you are a non-smoker in a home where someone smokes or if there is a possibility that you are an unwitting victim of passive smoking in the workplace.

Thanks to an instant result quantitative nicotine test kit that can be used in the home it is now possible to determine not only if you are exposed to passive smoke, but also your degree of exposure. There is also a quantitative test kit designed for professional use. Each kit comes in two types. One requires the use of a urine specimen for testing. The other uses saliva.

By determining your degree of secondhand smoke inhalation you can then act accordingly to address one of life’s serious health hazards.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purpose only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical consultation with a qualified professional. The author encourages Internet users to be careful when using medical information obtained from the Internet and to consult your doctor before make decisions that can affect your health or if you are unsure about your medical condition.

by Victor E. Battles - February 5, 2010

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