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Toxic Chemicals in Secondhand Smoke
Why is second-hand smoke dangerous?
Studies show that tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 compounds, of which seven are cancer-causing chemical compounds that are banned in workplace environments in Canada and the U.S.
These include: arsenic (lung cancer), benzene (leukemia), vinyl chloride (liver and brain cancer), beta-napthalymine and 4-aminobiphenyl (bladder cancer).In Canada, arsenic, benzene, and vinyl chloride are regulated hazardous air pollutants.
Exposure to these chemicals occurs whenever a tobacco product is burned.
In tobacco smoke, tar is a sticky, black residue containing hundreds of chemicals, many of which are considered carcinogenic or classified as hazardous waste. They include polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), aromatic amines and inorganic compounds.
Nicotine occurs naturally in tobacco plants and is responsible for causing the addiction to tobacco products. It harms your cardiovascular and endocrine systems.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is in tobacco smoke as a result of burning tobacco. It reduces the ability of your red blood cells to deliver oxygen to tissues, causing the greatest potential damage to the heart, brain, and skeletal muscles -- tissues that have the most demand for oxygen. You're probably also familiar with the potentially fatal effects on people who breathe this colourless, odourless gas also found in automobile exhaust.
Formaldehyde is classified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as a probable human carcinogen. It is registered in Canada as a pesticide. Its health effects can be drastic on smokers and those exposed to tobacco smoke. Eye, nose, and throat irritations and other breathing problems are just some of the symptoms.
This is considered one of the most toxic agents found in tobacco smoke. Many short and long-term toxic effects of cigarette smoke have been associated with hydrogen cyanide. Frequent exposure to lower concentrations will cause weakness, headache, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing and eye and skin irritation.
Declared toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, benzene is believed to harm you at any level of exposure. The International Agency for Research on Cancer describes it as a Group 1 carcinogen.
Smoking is also related to infertility, sudden infant death syndrome, and infant health problems.
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