The Toxic Risks of Passive Smoking
It is a well known fact that smoking affects the body in a negative way. It causes malfunctions of the immune system and increases the risk of cancer, infection, and organ damage (Bosher, 2011). A nicotine user may face increased heart rate and blood pressure, as well as inflammation of the gums and linings of the mouth and esophagus. However, passive smoking, also known as second hand smoke or involuntary smoke, can also be dangerous (Hackshaw, 1998). When smokers exhale smoke, it is breathed in by those who do not smoke, and presents just as many health risks for those exposed to it.
According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), the toxic ingredients and carcinogens inhaled by passive smokers cause nearly 600,000 deaths globally each year (Bosher, 2011). Poisonous fumes exert the same negative health effects upon non-smokers as smokers, traveling throughout their entire body. Passive smoke floods the body’s cells with carbon monoxide and competes with oxygen needed for proper organ and brain functionality. Over time, nicotine accumulates within body systems and makes a heavy contribution to increasing risks of cancer, heart diseases, and other sicknesses.
There are over 4,000 chemical components found in tobacco smoke (Hackshaw, 1998), such as benzene, chromium, arsenic ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and formaldehyde. Over 40 of these chemicals scientists correlate with cancer (Hwang, Hwang, Moon, & Lee, 2012). According to the recent studies, cigarette, pipe, and cigar toxins linger in the air long after the smoking has ended and often exist in high concentrations in and around office buildings, schools, restaurants, bars, and other high traffic areas (Bosher, 2011). The smaller the general area is, the higher is the concentration of smoke chemicals. Thus, those in the general vicinity receive the same dangerous health exposure as those directly smoking.
Children are perhaps the most vulnerable category. Many of them live with smokers. Because of the fact that their immune systems and lungs are just developing, children are more susceptible to the negative effects of toxic smoke (Hwang, et al., 2012). Studies have found a connection between passive smoking exposure and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), asthma, and many other respiratory illnesses in infants and children. Even expectant mothers can be adversely impacted by passive smoke. The 40 carcinogenic elements found in smoke can contribute to low birth weight and premature birth. They can also contaminate breast milk.
There is no low-risk or acceptable level of passive smoking (Bosher, 2011). Conventional air cleaning systems can aid in removing large toxic particles from the air, but not the smaller ones; and even small amounts can be harmful and should be avoided (Hackshaw, 1998). Children and pregnant or nursing mothers should be kept away from homes, cars, or public areas where they may be exposed to passive smoke. Prolonged exposure can lead to maladies, chronic diseases, and even death. Therefore, avoiding passive smoking is advisable for everyone and in every foreseeable situation.
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