At this point, virtually everyone knows tobacco smoke—even secondhand smoke—is bad for your health. But do you know exactly what the health risks are? And, more importantly, do you know how to test for environmental smoke so you can be proactive about your health?

In this blog post, we'll answer these questions and explain how Common Sense Inspections Inc. can help. Keep reading!
Health Risks of Environmental Tobacco Smoke

First and foremost, let's go over the health risks of environmental (a.k.a. "secondhand") tobacco smoke.

People are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke most commonly at home and at work. However, public places (like casinos, pedestrian malls, and even bars and restaurants in some states) are also known for exposing people to secondhand smoke. This has terrible effects on children and adults in different ways, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In children, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke can cause:

Frequent ear infections
Asthma attacks
Respiratory symptoms (e.g. coughing, sneezing, feeling winded)
Respiratory infections (e.g. pneumonia, bronchitis)
Higher risk of SIDS

In non-smoking adults, secondhand smoke can lead to greater risks of:

Heart disease
Lung cancer

Why Test for Environmental Tobacco Smoke?

Given the health risks outlined above, most people test for secondhand smoke because they want to assess the overall quality of their indoor air for the sake of their own health. This is particularly true for families that have an asthmatic child or that are especially worried about lung and heart conditions.

However, in some scenarios, an environmental tobacco smoke test may be mandated. For example, a test may be required for:

Life insurance policies
Enforcement and validation of a property's smoke-free policy
Senior centers
Rental car companies
Commercial buildings
Apartment complexes

Generally speaking, environmental tobacco smoke testing is required as a means of protecting people's health and safety.
How We Test for Secondhand Smoke

Common Sense Inspections Inc. is available to test for environmental tobacco smoke in homes and commercial properties throughout the Los Angeles area. Our tobacco smoke tests typically follow the same process as indoor air quality testing. The only difference is we focus exclusively on the chemical compounds that signal the presence of tobacco smoke.

With just one sample, we can cover up to 2,000 square feet of space. Once we've taken the sample(s), we look for three marker compounds:


In reality, tobacco actually contains 4,000 chemical compounds; however, we look for the three compounds above because they are markers that tell us tobacco smoke is present when they're detected at 0.1 nanograms per liter. In other words, detecting these three compounds is all we need to know if your property has traceable amounts of environmental tobacco smoke.

So, we hope this blog post gives you some background on environmental tobacco smoke so you can decide whether a professional test is right for you. If you'd like to learn more, please don't hesitate to reach out! Common Sense Inspections Inc. is here to help.