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Second and Third hand smoke: what can be done to prevent it from coming into the home and to clean inside the home to eliminate the effects of the 2nd/3rd hand smoke?

I have neighbors who smoke both at home and in the work place.  Asthma attacks, sneezing fits, burning and watery eyes results after the smallest exposure.  I cannot control my body's reactions, thus, I suffer through nearly every hour since these are 'chain smokers' who seem to smoke every half hour.  It takes 20 – 30 minutes for the smoke to drift into my home and business no matter if I have the doors and windows opened or closed.  The smoke comes through the walls, it seems.  I also have dozens of air purifiers running 24/7.  They help, but they cannot eliminate the smoke that comes into my home and business.  I also tried to seal the home with an energy audit, but it did not work.  I am at wit's end.  I would like to know if anyone has any ideas on the following:

1.  What can be done to keep the smoke from coming into the home?  Will installing huge fans to ventilate toward the smokers work?  If so, does anyone know of any contractors who will install these fans?

2.  After the smoke is in the home, what can be done to clean items to remove the 2nd/3rd hand smoke?

3.  There are reports that the air purifiers don't work, is that true?  They seem to help up to a point when there are more than a dozen or so of them running 24/7.

4.  What about ozone machines?  Do they work?

5.  What type of mask will work?  I had ones with carbon filters, but they are very stuffy.  I also tried the 3M industrial masks, but they are very uncomfortable.

Any information will be extremely appreciated. 

I talked to the neighbors, but they will not stop smoking.  I understand it is an addiction, but their addiction is harming others because they cannot control where the smoke goes and how many people they injure from the 2nd and 3rd hand smoke.  We non-smokers are unwilling participants.  When the smokers smoke, they are forcing the non-smokers to smoke at the same time.  If smokers started to smoke in the first place, they are just selfish and hiding behind this 'addiction' idea.  They do not understand that their addiction is imposing a death sentence on people who do not smoke.  Non-smokers will die of cancer and asthma attacks just because the smokers have an addiction.  I will be more sympathetic of this type of addiction if the smokers will actually try to keep their smoke to themselves and not pollute the air with all the smoke.  Even when they smoke outside, the smoke travels to another home.  Furthermore, they are causing pollution and harming other people, animals, wildlife, etc.  (Three of my cats died of cancer.)

This is a debate that will go on forever.  In the meantime, if anyone has any ideas, please post it.  I have tried many things and will try more items.  I do not want to move from my home which I had built on my own.  The smokers are ruining my life and taking so much of my time to just have 'clean' air to breath.

Thank you very much in advance for any ideas.

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  • Katie D

    I am so sorry that you are going through this @Mookie's Mom.

    Sounds like you have approached them and they just aren't willing to stop.  I grew up with a smoker, my Mom, and she still hasn't stopped.  I've tried and tried to ask for to do it for her children, my Father, her grandkids, but she just doesn't have the desire to.  And I always here "I'm addicted, it's too hard."  

    We have a recent thread , so know you are not alone in this, that you might want to check out.

    So you have a shared wall with them I presume?

    Smoke can find its way through the smallest of cracks. I assume with the energy audit that they checked on all your weather-stripping and insulation, especially around pipes that are shared between walls? 

    That is a lot of air purifiers!  Maybe double-checking the air filters to see that they have charcoal activated filters and the purifiers are certified asthma & allergy friendly™?

    I'm quoting here about the asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification program:

    The asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program, administered by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) in partnership with the international research organization, Allergy Standards Limited (ASL), is an independent program created to scientifically test and identify consumer products that are more suitable for people with asthma and allergies. You can find certified products and services such as carpet cleaning, flooring, vacuums and more at 

    We also have an advocacy section about I wanted to share with you.

    There are many resources, but I'm afraid many of these won't work as you have perpetual smoke coming into your home.

    I understand not wanting to move.  I lived next to smokers for about 5 years and we tried everything as well.  And every Sunday night they had a poker night and the smoking was non-stop.  I would retreat to my master bedroom with air purifiers running non stop and, while it helped, I could always smell it.  This was one of the reasons we decided to move from that home, we knew kids were in our future and did not want to expose them to their constant smoking and poker nights   Ironically when I told my Mom we were moving she was like, oh, because your neighbors smoke 

  • Jen

    @Mookie's Mom Welcome to posting. . That sounds really frustrating.  Definitely check out the certified link that Katie posted above.  

    Also, do you think your neighbors would be receptive to smoking in rooms on the opposite side of their house/business from yours?  Or…another approach might be to tell them what you need (i.e. to not have smoke coming into your home/business) and ask what suggestions they might have.  

    Good luck!

  • Mookie's Mom

    Thank you for the information, Katie!   I am so glad that I am not alone in this.  I will try the items that you had posted.  I am testing the air purifier from Fellowes which had been certified by the AAFA.  The representative is kind enough to let me try it out for a week.  This is the 'Aramax pro purifier' by Fellowes.  I am also researching 'air curtains' that will separate the environments.  A lot to do and so little time, but in the end, it will be worth it.

    Thank you, Jen, for the post also.  Unfortunately, the neighbors smoke outside less than 15 feet away from my home and all the smoke end up in my home.  I had talked with them and they don't seem to get it.  They just had a new baby and I really feel sorry for the little kid since she will die young with both parents smoking as if there is no tomorrow.  They don't even care about their daughter, thus, the will not care about me, their neighbor, who is suffering from their smoke.

    Happy Holidays to everyone! 

  • Jen

    Ugh.  Sorry to hear they seem to be oblivious.  I hope the purifiers and other things will help make it manageable for you.  

    Happy holidays to you as well!

  • Star

    Use Borax to clean. Much safer than bleach, & I think more effective. Yes, 20 Mule-Team Borax, just like grandma used.  

    Wash walls, wash everything. Wash clothes with 1/2 cup borax & laundry soap. No more odors.  

    No, “ozone” doesn’t work! It’s a pollutant. If your car makes too much, you can’t license it. I don’t know how they get away with selling it.  

    “Negative Ions” do work. One popular generator, is the Himalayan salt lamp. It puts out a lovely pink glow, plus it makes air fresher.  Good luck!  

  • Mookie's Mom

    Thank you, Star, for the information.  I never thought about Borax.  I will try that out.  I just got the Himalayan salt lamp from my sister and trying it out now.  The light is a pretty pink.  I am still wondering about the air curtains and will contact the certification people to see if they heard about these products.  Thank you again!

    Happy New Year!

  • K8sMom2002

    Hugs on the smokers … I agree with everything Katie said. An energy audit will help you find the cracks that the smoke is getting in, and there are lots of products that are more suitable for folks with allergies and asthma on the  .

    It sounds as though they are smoking outside near your door? Do you rent? If you do, could you ask your landlord to put up no-smoking signs near doorways? Or create a smoker's area (benches and a smoker's urn) away from your door?

    Have you tried using an HVAC air filter as well as your air purifier? There are some on the certified site that have worked well for me and they say they filter out smoke and odors. 

    Another possibility is to add a do-it-yourself screen curtain on your doors out of some of the — here's a website that talks about making your own . You could split it up the middle and add magnets to it to make it like the ones you see advertised on TV. By hanging it inside your exterior door near where the smokers are, it might add another layer of protection. 

  • Dr. Liz Young

    Hello, I have a similarly ugly story as reported by Mookie's Mom.   I live in a condo part time for 8 years.  A new guy just bought the one adjacent to my door way.  He is a chain smoker.  Upon arrival to my condo on Dec 17th, 2017, I was immediately overcome with thick smoke coming from under his door into the area of our doors with no ventilation system to take out the smoke.  A severe asthmatic attack began.  I went through the night only to be overcome the next morning with profuse entrance of smoke as I attempted to take my dog out for potty.  Within an hour, 911 transported me to the hospital on Dec 18 where I have remained for the past 11 days.  I am home now.  He is still smoking.  The custodians are trying to vent out the smoke by propping open the fire stairway door.  It helps but is also illegal and will be shut again as soon as someone exercises that right.  

    The custodian at my request while in the hospital bought an exhaust fan for his window.  He has full view of the ocean.  The fan would face the parking lot.  He refuses to use it based on raising his electric bill.  I offered to pay his electric bill.  He then refused based on obstructing 12 inches of his view of the parking lot.   He is simply a mean man . 

    I am back at the condo now since last night.  I wear a mask to go in and out of the my condo for my dog's needs.  Our HOA is not cooperative.  They say because we own our condos, we have the right to smoke in them or do whatever we want.  He is taking that stance.   Hallways are common public areas and his smoke is protruding into the hallways where I have to walk to get in and out of my condo.

    Are there laws I can refer to in order to gain support on this issue?   

    Are there signs like Smoking is Health Hazard to this Occupant?   

    I am just guessing at what may be available.  

    Do you have advice for me?

    Respectfully, Liz Young, PhD 

     

     

     

     

  • Jen

    @Dr. Liz Young That is a truly frustrating situation.  I am sorry that your neighbor's lack of consideration caused you to be in the hospital. Hugs~  

    Welcome to posting, by the way.

  • K8sMom2002

    Hugs, Liz … that is tough. So the smoke is coming from under his door? Man, that has to be a heavy smoker!

    Can you set up an air purifier in the hallway? There are some flat panel ones like RabbitAir (expensive, but I'm thinking they could be wall-mounted.)

    You could check out the asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program for certified purifiers. Here's a little about the program:

    The asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program, administered by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) in partnership with the international research organization, Allergy Standards Limited (ASL), is an independent program created to scientifically test and identify consumer products that are more suitable for people with asthma and allergies. You can find certified products and services such as carpet cleaning, flooring, vacuums and more at 

    You're right that hallways are considered common areas, but I'm not sure whether owning the apartment might make a difference. Have you reached out to the ADA hotlines?

  • Dr. Liz Young

    Thank you.  I have been  contacting agencies.   Holiday of course is involved with delays in return calls.  Will continue further.  

  • Mookie's Mom

    Dr. Young, 

    I am so sorry to hear about what you had to go through.  The smokers don't care for anyone but themselves.  I had been battling this for more than 15 years.  Everyone here at AAFA are extremely helpful.  I am trying all the suggestions for air purifiers, window screens, cleaning products, etc.  Also, I am in the process of writing to the asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program about the idea of 'air curtains' that may be able to separate environments.  Unfortunately, they are geared toward and industrial use than personal use.  Hopefully, with the help of the AAFA certification program, these companies may expand their products for us consumers.  It may take some time, but hopefully, it will work.  In the mean time, please look into the certified air purifiers which operate automatically.  I just tested the Aramax Pro by Fellowes.  The representative was kind enough to let me try it out for a week.  There is a lot of work in progress, but everything will be worth it in the end.  It is impossible to get these smokers to stop smoking from their 'addiction.'  They will not even try to smoke elsewhere and will not consider how they are harming so many other people.

    Please post again to let us know how you are doing.  In the meantime, take care!

     

  • Mookie's Mom

    hello,, 

    Thank you for the idea on the Pollentec screens.  I wonder if they give samples to see how they work.  I will contact the company to see what they will say.  How did you hear about them?

    Sorry for the late reply.  I was writing to the Certification people and forgot if I had replied to you yesterday.  If this is a duplicate, please disregard.

    Thanks again and Happy New Year!

  • Kathy P

    Welcome Mookie's Mom and Dr. Liz! Dealing w/ smoke is miserable. My daughter and I went into the city yesterday and it reminded me how overwhelming it can be! We were on a bus and someone got on reeking of smoke and playing w/ a lighter…and sat down right next to me. I was soon gulping for air!

    Dr Liz – have you looked at way to seal your door better? Like adding weather stripping or something? Mookie's Mom – I'm assuming looking at was part of your energy audit.

  • Mookie's Mom

    Thank you, Kathy,

    The energy audit, like purifiers, and other items work only up to a point.  After the energy audit, sealing up everything actually trapped some of the smoke inside the house from minute cracks on the wall, windows, and electrical outlets, etc..  Sealing, weather stripping, purifiers, and other items only work up to a point.  I have dozens of purifiers working 24/7 and I am still getting more.  They are good devices, but they do not help 100% of the time.  I just sent in an email to Michele in the Certification Program regarding 'air curtains' in hopes that she may have more information on them and can help to talk with the companies that make them.  It seems like something that may help to separate the environments.  We all know that the smokers will not stop smoking.  It is also physically impossible to keep the 2nd/3rd hand smoke confined in one specific area.  Even if people smoke in designated areas, it will travel to areas that will affect non-smokers.

  • Star
    Star posted:

    Use Borax to clean. Much safer than bleach, & I think more effective. Yes, 20 Mule-Team Borax, just like grandma used.  

    Wash walls, wash everything. Wash clothes with 1/2 cup borax & laundry soap. No more odors.  

    No, “ozone” doesn’t work! It’s a pollutant. If your car makes too much, you can’t license it. I don’t know how they get away with selling it.  

    “Negative Ions” do work. One popular generator, is the Himalayan salt lamp. It puts out a lovely pink glow, plus it makes air fresher.  Good luck!  

    Anything that keeps air from coming in, can help. Try broad drapery over doorways, inside the door. It can help, as long as it covers over the entire door opening, plus the space around it. Make sure the drapery rod is long enough, to store the curtain out of the way when using the door. I like to stuff the base of outer doors with a large towel or small blanket. This plus weatherstripping, can stop a lot of air exchange.

    To block more influx, use craft foam (found wherever kid crafts are sold). Cut the thin foam to fit behind each outlet plate. Start by removing screws & plate, draw around the plate, which makes it a little larger for a tight fit. Cut out the foam gasket, and the shapes for plugs or switches. Place the foam behind when replacing the plate. This can help keep smoke out of your space.

    This is commonly used to keep outside air from chilling or heating inside air. If 

  • Mookie's Mom

    Dear Star,  Wow, those are good ideas!  I will try them all out.  Thank you for posting with all the information!!

  • Shea

    My only kinda out-there idea is to buy the smoking neighbors an ecig with a few nicotine cartidges/flavors. Call it a christmas or new year gift. Let them know it is just to try, or to mix in with their use, (especially around the house) and it provides the nicotine but not the tons of other carcinogens, and you have heard good things from smokers about it. And reiterate it is juuust to try. And if they like it, both of you benefit (and their pocketbook too) but if they dont, at least they tried it!

  • Shea

    I use these bamboo bags to capture some odors, they wont knock out the problem on their own, but will help absord the odors in small areas they get trapped in. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Hugs on everyone dealing with cigarette smoke … for me, it's a horrible trigger, and i can't tolerate second or third hand smoke. 

  • K8sMom2002

    @Mookie's Mom, were you ever able to try @Star's idea about using craft foam for switches? I thought it was a genius idea!

  • Mookie's Mom

    Ms. Cynthia,  Yes the coverings for the switch plates do help, but only to a point also.   There is no way to do everything at 100%.  I had installed a huge air purifier from Fellows which has automatic sensor.  The air purifier's speed increases when it senses any type of odor in the air.  Hope this will answer your question.

  • K8sMom2002

    Oh, yay! I'm glad … I've found over the years that while there may be no "silver bullet" fix for our problems, if we can chip away at the edges, they become small enough to be managable!

    I'm so glad the air purifier is working for you, too. What other things have you tried?

  • Mookie's Mom

    Even thought the air quality is acceptable now, I am thinking of the following to try next:

    1.  Pollentec screens

    2.  fans to blow toward the direction of the smoke

    3.  plant more 'air purifying plants'