A new study found that exposure to third hand smoke is just as dangerous as first or second-hand smoke causing health issues like cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, asthma, hyperactivity and poor healing of wounds.

Don't smoke and don't be exposed to second or third-hand smoke is the message University of California researchers give after conducting a recent study on mice. Second and third-hand smoke is just as dangerous as first hand smoke and cause similar health hazards, according to a press statement.

"We studied, on mice, the effects of third-hand smoke on several organ systems under conditions that simulated third-hand smoke exposure of humans," said Manuela Martins-Green, a professor of cell biology, who led the study.  "We found significant damage occurs in the liver and lung. Wounds in these mice took longer to heal.  Further, these mice displayed hyperactivity."

Third-hand smoke is described as the second-hand smoke that is allowed to settle on the surfaces of objects and lingers in the air. Over time, it becomes more toxic and is dangerous to inhale. Children, spouses of smokers and workers in environments where smoking is allowed are people who are directly exposed to third-hand smoke. This type of smoke contains strong carcinogens that are left in rooms and spaces even after smokers have left.

When third-hand smoke enters the lungs, it simulates excess collagen production and high levels of inflammatory cytokines, which increases the risk of inflammatory diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. It also affects the liver, increasing lipid levels that can cause cancer, cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis and even non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Researchers also noted that the wounds of mice exposed to third-hand smoke healed slower than normal, similarly observed in human smokers who have gone through surgery.

This is the first study that looked into the specific health implications of acute or cumulative exposure to third hand smoke.

"There is a critical need for animal experiments to evaluate biological effects of exposure to third-hand smoke that will inform subsequent human epidemiological and clinical trials," Martins-Green said. "Such studies can determine potential human health risks, design of clinical trials and potentially can contribute to policies that lead to reduction in both exposure and disease."

Third-hand smoke can damage several organs in the body. Researchers also noted that it increases the risk of type II diabetes even when the person is not obese. The study also found that children living with one or two adults who smoke are absent 40 percent more days from school due to illness than children who do not live with smokers.

The study was funded by the California Tobacco Related Disease Research Program and published in PLOS ONE.