A couple of my readers have been kind [or perverse] enough to point out an item of ‘news’ that is doing the rounds at the moment.
I say ‘news’ but this little nugget has been around since 2008.
I am referring to a rather alarming study regarding Third Hand Smoke.
We all know what smoking is, I presume? There are still major questions hanging over the dangers of that one, but I will leave that aside for now.
Then there is Environmental Tobacco Smoke, or as some people like to call it – second hand smoke. The dangers of ETS have never been proven. We constantly hear expressions such as “the well known dangers of” and “is known to be” and vague airy expressions, but I have yet so find any authoritative and definitive study that proves any dangers. In other words, the dangers of ETS lies only in rumour, popular belief and innuendo.
Back in 2008, a paediatrician by the name of Jonathan Winickoff made a solo run and decided to invent the concept now known as Third Hand Smoke. Note that he is a paediatrician; not an oncologist or an environmentalist, but an expert on children’s health. He took it on himself to investigate the effects of tobacco smoke in a room after the smoker has left.
Winickoff’s initial ‘research’ consisted of a survey of people’s opinions. Yes. He asked them if they thought that Third Hand Smoke could be dangerous. When the majority expressed an opinion that, yes, they thought it could be harmful, then Winickhoff had his ‘proof’ that it was harmful! By the same token, he could have asked them if they believed in Extra Terrestrials, and that would again have provided ‘conclusive scientific proof’?
Science is pretty advanced these days. Equipment has become ever more sophisticated to the point where it is safe to say that if something exists, no matter how small the quantity, that it can be detected. We are at the stage where individual molecules of an element or chemical can be detected in a sample of matter. As a simple example, I can guarantee [and will stake anything you care to mention, up to and including my life] that tests will find traces of Zirconium-95 [which is highly radioactive] in every living person in the UK and Ireland as a result of the Chernobyl disaster. There may only be a molecule or two, but it will be there. In fact, I would suggest that just about anything could be found if one searched hard enough. I would imagine that I would have several molecules of meteorite dust on my body, and probably a molecule or two that once passed through Napoleon.
Now here is the problem. If I find my molecules of Zirconium-95, how do I describe the amount? Do I say I have found one part per trillion, or do I say I have found a ‘significant’ amount? Anti-smokers tend to choose the latter.
I have searched the Interweb looking for further studies, but all I can find are press reports announcing this ‘alarming new threat’. I found one reference to a study that found that the bedrooms of non-smokers had concentrations of nicotine of 0.09 mcg/m3, while those of smokers had levels of 0.22 mcg/m3. Two things I would point out here – the first is that nicotine was found in the bedrooms of non-smokers just goes to show that it’s a naturally occurring substance anyway [do you eat potatoes?] and the second is that while there appears to be an ‘alarming increase’, the safe level is considered to be 500 mcg/m3, so there is hardly a ‘significant threat’?
At the start, I stated that the studies were alarming. I meant that for two reasons. The first is that I find it alarming that anyone would take such a ‘study’ seriously. If I produced a result like that in my primary school exams, I would be failed without hesitation. The second reason for alarm is that the public are being duped by the whole farce. This is a myth that has become fact purely through popular belief.
It has reached the stage now where ASH [good old ASH!] are now claiming that even if you smoke in your garden, the residue you bring back on your clothing is killing your children. This is clearly an irrational and insane proposal, but this is the level to which the public is descending. ASH are using their own theory now to propose that smoking be banned in private homes.
The zealots love to quote that there is no safe level of tobacco smoke.
I would contend that there is no safe level of anti-smoking zealots.
Severe Toxic Bullshit Warning