Researchers study dangers of thirdhand smoke

We all know the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke but you may not be aware of another smoking danger. It's called thirdhand smoke-- residue that you can't see or smell -- and young children may be the most at risk.

FOX 29's Joyce Evans went to Eileen MacCormac's routine breathing test. This is every month along with 2 shots of a steroid serum.

Cigarette smoke is an arch-enemy. She's been telling people for years whether there's smoke in a room, outside a room, she knows when it's lurking somewhere.

"You can feel it. I can feel my system changing when I'm around smoke even if i can't smell it. I don't know if there's residue left from smoking but I can feel it in my throat and in my chest and in my bronchial tubes."

A new study found Eileen is likely reacting to something called thirdhand smoke. Scientists say it's just about everywhere a smoker has spent some time and left a little something behind.

Asthma and allergy expert Dr. Sandra Gawchik says even when a smoker only smokes outdoors a non-smoker may not be escaping harm.

"The irritant smell is there and there's over 7,000 chemicals in exhaled cigarette smoke," she explained. "It sticks on furniture it sticks on your skin, your clothes and you can transfer it."

Researchers say they've found traces of nicotine in the hands of children.

Eileen, a retired preschool teacher, isn't surprised.

"Children would come into the classroom smelling like they were the ones smoking. I used to hang their coats outside so the whole classroom didn't smell," she explained. "It's hard looking at a 3 and 4 year old that smelled like a cigarette and knowing there's nothing you can do to save them from that."