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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Second-hand crack smoke

08/01/2007

Question:

I live above someone who smokes crack on a regular basis and I can often smell the smoke in my apartment. Should I be worried about absorbing anything in my system? I have a heart murmer and am worried this could be harmful.

Answer:

I am not aware of any studies on the effects of second-hand crack smoke. I am familiar with some cases of infants (less than one-year old) who had negative health consequences as a result of living in the same places where individuals smoked large amounts of crack.

While there is a small chance that you are being exposed to some level of second-hand crack smoke, I am not sure that this level of exposure would be enough to cause you heart problems or other health problems. Certainly if you lived in the same apartment as the person smoking crack, your chances of exposure would be greatly increased.

If you had a urine drug screen done, and it showed cocaine in your urine, that would be one way to measure whether or not you had been exposed to second-hand crack smoke. However, before doing this, I would suggest that you speak to your primary care physician about your concerns.

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Response by:

Christina M Delos Reyes, MD Christina M Delos Reyes, MD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University