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Topic: Chemistry question: Third hand smoke  (Read 732 times)

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Offline Belgianeer

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Chemistry question: Third hand smoke
« on: December 09, 2019, 09:30:41 AM »
I am currently writing an assignment about third hand smoke. Things are going well but I have several questions about the dangers of third hand smoke and washing clothes:

In one of the chapters I am writing about cleaning the clothes, but I mainly find answers that deal with the smoke odour (on the internet) and not with the chemical components in the clothes. One could for example wash out the stinking components, but some bad chemical stuff could remain Therefore I have some questions:

First: I was wondering which of both safe components are better against chemicals spread by smoking (I live in Europe-so maybe those chemicals common in European cigarettes): baking soda (alkaline) or vinegar (acid). Both are linked to removing the odour, but do they also remove the chemicals

Second: Could you truly cleanse the chemicals and especially the carcinogens from laundry with baking soda or vinegar. Would there be something better; e.g. a laundry detergent with surfactants? Is this even possible with a household washing machine?

Third and last question: Can you apply the same cleansing protocol to residue build up on the ground that comes into contact with the ground; e.g. a toddler playing on the ground in tobacco residue.

Thanks in advance for your answers and sorry for any spelling mistakes (English isn’t my native language).

Offline shchavel

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Re: Chemistry question: Third hand smoke
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2019, 06:47:23 AM »
Hello, Belgianeer!
I think that simple laudary detergent can clean your clothes completely. You don't need any special addictives to wash it.

Offline MNIO

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Re: Chemistry question: Third hand smoke
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2019, 02:16:25 PM »
are you asking this question
  a smoker gets smoke on another persons clothes.  Another person cleans those clothes.  The cleaning process
  results in a residue buildup somewhere.

  (1) can the chemicals in cigarette smoke be thoroughly cleaned from clothes?
  (2) what's the best way to clean those clothes
  (3) can the residue be cleaned up

The problem you're facing is there are thousands of chemicals in cigarette smoke
of which there are nearly 100 that are considered carcinogens. 
another list for you to consider

Some of those chemicals are water soluble, some aren't.  Of those that aren't, some are soluble in acidified H2O, others in basic aqueous solutions.  Some are soluble with soapy water, some aren't.  There really isn't a process that 100% removes those chemicals from your clothes.  You will always have trace amounts.  And the washing water will most definitely contain traces of those chemicals and that gets back into our drinking water.

Probably the best way to remove those chemicals from the environment is to thoroughly burn your clothes (which converts most everything to CO2 and H2O and a few trace metal oxides).  But who wants to do that.

So instead of regulating the rinse water from clothes, we have drinking water quality standards that limits the amount of things like "benzene" (which is found in cigarette smoke) to what is considered a relatively safe value.  It's not zero, but most likely a harmless value.

my suggestion to you is this
  (1) start with the chemicals present in cigarette smoke
  (2) google chemicals EXHALED in cigarette smoke
  (3) determine the concentration of those components in a standard size room based on average # of
       cigarettes smoked and air turn over rate
  (4) assume your clothes will have the same concentration
  (5) estimate the number of clothes washed per day
  (6) estimate the total amount of the predominant chemicals put into the water (assuming washing is
       100% effective)
  (7) determine if the value is within water safety standards

fyi, this probably a 2 day research project + writeup.  It could make for an excellent paper if you do it well!

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