If your living situation leaves you exposed to secondhand smoke, you need to take action.
Everybody knows a smoker. They’re easy to find — check the outside of any restaurant, bar, or sidewalk in America, and you’re sure to spot at least one. It doesn’t exactly take an archaeologist to chart a smoker’s territory from the strewn collections of discarded cigarette butts littered about the sidewalk. You may even smoke yourself.
We have nothing against smokers as people — it’s just that their habits are actually destructive to the people around them.
We all know that countless (32, to be exact) Surgeon General reports detail scientifically-verified information on the serious medical issues posed by secondhand smoke (SHS). Still, as long as people remain addicted to tobacco, the problem will persist.
This is because, most of the time, SHS is unavoidable. You can choose to walk away from a smoker, but you can’t always just move out if they live right next to or with you.
Whether you live in an apartment with smokers or they’re your college dorm roommates, you are unwittingly being exposed to secondhand dangers. Here’s why you should care — and what you can do about it.
Scourge by Osmosis
The American Cancer Society paints a particularly bleak portrait of the dangers of SHS. We may as well begin with the grim numbers: of the staggering 20 million Americans who have died as a result of smoke inhalation since 1964, about 12.5% — or 2.5 million — were actually non-smokers.
This number includes the roughly 100,000 babies who perished due to parental smoking. Scary stuff.
Why is secondhand smoke so particularly troublesome? Well, it turns out there are actually two kinds of smoke: mainstream and sidestream. Mainstream smoke is what the smoker exhales after puffing; sidestream is the smoke that drifts from the tip of the lit cigarette into the surrounding air.
The latter is unfiltered, and thus contains more toxins, carcinogens, and smaller particles that more easily make their way into your body — your buddy may be the one smoking, but you’re actually getting the short end of the stick.
You already know that SHS is carcinogenic and strongly correlates with various cancers — especially lung cancer (7,000 SHS deaths per year), but also lymphoma, leukemia, cancers of the brain, throat, bladder, rectum, stomach, etc — but what about other diseases? The raw truth is that, annually, about 42,000 people die of heart disease caused by cigarettes they never smoked.
There are also strong links between secondhand smoke and the increased risk of severe dementia and depression (especially among pregnant women), as well as hundreds of thousands of cases of respiratory infections and asthmatic symptoms attributed to SHS.
Because of secondhand smoke’s pernicious quality, the EPA has determined that there are no safe levels of exposure.
Room To Breathe
You’re not totally out of luck, though. Beyond removing yourself from the smoking area, the best way to reduce the damage caused by SHS is to actually cleanse the air you breathe. According to an article by industry expert Rabbit Air, air purifiers are an effective way to combat both the harmful chemicals and odors released by secondhand smoke.
Air purifiers create healthy, breathable air through the use of a robust HEPA filter, which captures the particulate matter produced by cigarette smoke as it is drawn through the filter’s fibers. This is combined with the use of an activated carbon filter, an extremely porous material, that effectively traps chemicals and odors as they pass.
The Rabbit Air MinusA2 air purifier also has a customized filter option, called the Odor Remover, that was specifically produced to trap smoke particles in your home. It has activated carbon woven into its fibers, increasing the effectiveness, durability, and longevity of the device.
While secondhand smoke remains a serious health threat in our homes and communities, there are practical ways to combat its dangers, allowing you to take a refreshing, deep, and smoke-free sigh of relief.