Tucson AZ Home Loan Info


New Real Estate Disclosure? Third Hand Smoke Residue A Carcinogen

new disclosure? Third hand smoke residue a carcinogen"People can be exposed to toxins in tobacco smoke in a way that's never been recognized before."  

That quote by Lara Gundel, indoor environment specialist and staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory may change the level of disclosure required when agents list an existing home for sale.

If the findings of the study (click the LBNL link to see the article) are confirmed, homebuyers like me are going to want to know whether the previous occupants of a home were smokers.

Services commonly in use today can minimize or mask the odor of stale smoke left in a home by years of tobacco smoke residue, but it has yet to be determined if the risk uncovered by this study will remain.  (Click the link for the entire article.)

"We know that these residual levels of nicotine may build up over time after several smoking cycles, and we know that through the process of aging, thirdhand smoke can become more toxic over time," according to co-author Hugo Destaillats.

It's just one more thing to think about.


I'm Mike in Tucson, your preferred Tucson Mortgage Lender.

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Comment balloon 17 commentsMike Jones • February 09 2010 10:09AM


I can certainly understand this.  I frequently get that question from buyers.  Oftentimes, because its not my listing, there is no way for me to answer it.  However, I do believe that it is a valid inquiry.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out! 

Posted by Suzanne McLaughlin, Sabinske & Associates, Realtor (Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael)) almost 11 years ago

Hi Mike,

Sadly, even if this is covered over ( only temp), it should be a requirement to be disclosed about occupants, past or present smoking in a home. Any good sniffer will immediatrely recognise it, sooner or later, especially if it was covered over. I have yet to see where it can be masked over more than temporally. The tars are heated and vaporized when smoking takes place. Those tars are in the air and land on non permeable surfaces but more importantly, they accumulate in or on any permeable surface, thus rendering some of them destroyed. Latex paint is a good example. When smoke passes over ( continuously the surface it is absorbed. Repainting does not seal it in, it can and work its way forward to the surface. And all this is about smell, It hadn't even occurred to me that it could be a carcinogen making it far more serious .  

Fabrics, soft flooring, vents,glass, the underside of wood furniture that is not sealed, into the construction area of upholstery and its soft products, etc. Let your imagination go here, there is no surface safe. Much is cleanable ( usually hasn't been completely) except where it is absorbed however and there it stays. It would take tars many life times to break down. The solution has to be dramatic. I won't get into it but unless the molecular structure of the tar is changed, it can and will stay contained in the permeable surfaces indefinitely.

I have heard recently ( with the last couple years)  that there is an electronic devise that can change the molecular structure of old smoking tars and it has a patent. But I have not heard about it's common use , more than a cursory mention.



Posted by William Johnson, Retired Real Estate Professional (Retired) almost 11 years ago

Wow! Mike,

I'm split on this one!

The anti smoking part of me is cheering!

The real estate person is up set about more social burden being dumped on us!

The conservative in me is offended! Where is this a government interest?


Posted by William J. Archambault, Jr. (The Real Estate Investment Institute ) almost 11 years ago

Thankfully, we have fewer and fewer smokers.  Thanksfully too, many who do smoke do not do so in their own home. 

I have never sold a home where the sellers smoked.  My buyer simply wouldn't buy one.  Their choice, not mine.  I've even had a couple of buyers who wouldn't buy a home selling by a smoker. 

I had an agent who sold a smoker's home and the contract required a commercial cleaning, walls, windows, carpets, ducts, filters, etc.  Cost the sellers a bundle, but that's the price of smoking in a house. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Smoke...the new mold!


Posted by Dawn Heinemann, The Peter DeLuca Team (Long Realty Company) almost 11 years ago

IMO the true impact of secondhand smoke has not been determined, never mind third hand.  It's a bizarre trait of our country - we awfulize a handful of things and merrily go along ignoring the myriad of dangers from the chemical soup we swim in.  Let's start with automobile and truck exhaust - it's much more pervasive and I would suggest much more toxic.  Put a person in an enclosed space - it may get smoky from a cigarette but car exhaust will kill you.


Posted by Elizabeth Bolton, Cambridge MA Realtor (RE/MAX Destiny Real Estate Cambridge, MA) almost 11 years ago

Article is first study I've heard. Bet it won't be the last. Have re-blogged. Thanks!

Posted by Ann Heitland, Retired from Flagstaff Real Estate Sales (Retired from RE/MAX Peak Properties) almost 11 years ago

Someone told me recently that arsenic is in the home from the residue:

Here is a BPO I did a couple of weeks ago:

Yes, that is what you think it is!

Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) almost 11 years ago


Think of the years of smoke that painted the dresser's outline!  Thanks for commenting and for the photo.


Thanks for the reblog!


I couldn't agree more, but I've stopped fighting that battle and just look for ways to use the present climate to build my business regardless of the silliness.


That's about it!


Apropos of Elizabeth's comment, and in response to yours, it's all about what will sell and what won't.


What's the response from the businessman side of you?


I wonder what that electrical device would do in the room Renee Burrows shows in her comment?


That it will.  Thanks for commenting.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 11 years ago

you know, some things are just getting out of hand in my opinion - I don't smoke and could care less who smoked in my home before I moved in - if they were chain smokers that lived there for years I would have smelled it when I walked in - since I did not smell anything, I am fine - no disclosure needed -

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) almost 11 years ago

That photo of Renee's is major gross.  Look at how white the wall is behind what looks like may have been a picture on the wall.  Looks like the some got stuck behind the dresser.  blech!

Posted by Doreen McPherson, Phoenix Arizona Real Estate ~ (Homesmart ~ Scottsdale ~ Tempe) almost 11 years ago

Thanks for sharing this -- I think the issue will begin to be even more important.

I recently heard of a lawsuit against a buyer's agent, as a buyer bought a townhome (or condo) and the next door neighbor smoked.   The buyer felt that the buyer's agent should have disclosed this.   (Not sure I have all of the facts right in this lawsuit, but I think I have the jest of it right.)

Posted by Kathy Torline, Colorado Springs Real Estate Blog 719-287-1049 (ERA Herman Group Real Estate) almost 11 years ago


I'd like to know more about that lawsuit.  Thanks for commenting.


Your comment made me look at the photo again, and it's interesting ~ the area behind the dresser is a positive, while the area behind the picture is a negative.  I wonder if the back of the dresser was coated with smoke residue before it was placed in the home?


Thanks for giving the contrary opinion!

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 11 years ago

My guess is, the picture was touching the wall and the smoke was unable to get behind it and the dresser had space behind it and that allowed it to accumulate there.   gross, gross!

Posted by Doreen McPherson, Phoenix Arizona Real Estate ~ (Homesmart ~ Scottsdale ~ Tempe) almost 11 years ago


I thought that at first, but then wouldn't all of the wall be that dark?  Something else is going on there.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 11 years ago

Maybe they painted around the dresser at one time.  It is too weird...

Posted by Doreen McPherson, Phoenix Arizona Real Estate ~ (Homesmart ~ Scottsdale ~ Tempe) almost 11 years ago

Hi Mike,

I've only had one buyer purchase a home where you could still smell smoke and he was a smoker. The odor is so offensive..it's always harder to sell a home where a smoker has lived as so many do not smoke now and want nothing to do with a home that has such a pungit odor!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899) almost 11 years ago

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