How does exposure to first-, second-, and thirdhand smoke compare when it comes to a child’s health? This project aims to find out by comparing the demographics, health, and types of tobacco exposure of 1,000 children in Cincinnati’s pediatric emergency department. This study will then use that information to identify environmental thirdhand smoke sources and illness patterns.

Project funded by: National Institute of Health (NIH)

Principal investigators: Melinda Mahabee-Gittens, MD, MS & Georg Matt, PhD

Co-investigators: Eunha Hoh, PhD, Pennelope Quintana, PhD, & Ashley Merianos, PhD

The objective of this longitudinal cohort study is to identify children exposed only to thirdhand smoke. In this study we will compare children in three distinct groups:

1) Only thirdhand smoke exposure group: These children live with nonsmokers, have no reported secondhand smoke exposure (confirmed negative or low levels of secondhand smoke), and have higher levels of thirdhand smoke.

2) Mixed second- and thirdhand smoke exposure group: These children live with smokers, have confirmed moderate or high levels of secondhand smoke exposure, and high levels of thirdhand smoke exposure.

3) No exposure group: These children live with nonsmokers and have no second- or thirdhand smoke exposure.

The demographics, exposure, and illness patterns of these groups will be compared over time. Next, we will disentangle which environmental sources contribute to thirdhand smoke levels and the association between thirdhand smoke and inflammatory and oxidative biomarkers, pulmonary function, and other illness.

We will screen 1,000 children from the pediatric emergency department using strict screening and biochemical validation techniques. Our design will allow us to identify and compare the different exposure groups. First, a targeted screening and strict biochemical validation using cotinine and handwipe nicotine to identify children for each group will be conducted. Biological and home environmental samples will be assessed for urinary cotinine, NNAL, thirdhand smoke exposure (urinary NNAL/cotinine, N-Oxides/cotinine), thirdhand smoke pollution (handwipe and surface wipe nicotine, dust TSNAs), and tobacco smoke pollution (air nicotine).