Secondhand smoke is one of the worst air pollutants to have in the home because it can cause difficulty breathing, as well as lead to a number of different respiratory ailments in the individuals breathing in the secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke emits from the unfiltered end of a cigarette, making it much worse than what smokers is take into their lungs. It is released in high concentrations with every cigarette burned. While avoiding smoking in your home or place of business is the ideal way to keep second hand smoke out, the quality of the air conditioner filter that you use can have an impact on how much this type of smoke impacts your indoor air quality. Using a high quality air filter in your home can be a beneficial way to filter secondhand smoke from indoor air.

The Dangers of Secondhand Smoke
Research from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicates that secondhand smoke contains nearly 4,000 chemical compounds, including more than 40 that are known to cause cancer, and has higher concentrations of carcinogens than exhaled smoke. The particles in secondhand smoke are small and can make their way into the body’s cells easily, causing ailments such as heart disease, lung infections, chest discomfort, and asthma.

The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that nearly 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year in non-smoking adults can be attributed to secondhand smoke. Tobacco control laws enacted in many states have dramatically decreased public exposure from levels seen a decade ago, but a large number of non-smokers are still exposed to secondhand smoke on a regular basis.

Children are particularly susceptible to the dangers of secondhand smoke due to the fact that they are still physically developing and have a higher rate of breathing than adults. According to the EPA, children that are exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of ear infections, slow lung growth, acute respiratory infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, yet many adults and children are exposed to secondhand smoke on a daily basis in their homes, workplaces, or public spaces.

Choosing the Right Air Filter for Secondhand Smoke
Eliminating secondhand smoke from indoor air protects your family, your coworkers, your guests, and your pets from the harmful effects of all of the toxins and carcinogens present in the smoke. In order to be the most effective against secondhand smoke, the air filter chosen should have a high MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value), which indicates a higher efficiency at removing small particles from the air. It should also contain activated carbon or some other adsorbent material for removing the gaseous toxins from the air. Changing the air filter on a regular basis will prevent a buildup of particulates being released back into the air and will ensure that there is enough activated carbon available to adsorb some of the harmful gases released in secondhand smoke.

Author's Bio: 

Jim Gates, CAFS, is the brand manager for Quality Filters, Inc. (, a leading manufacturer and distributor of high quality home and commercial air filters. The company’s products are available online at (