Although the harmful effects of passive tobacco smoking are well-documented, not much research is available that could confirm the same for marijuana smoke. Since cannabis, like tobacco, is mostly smoked indoors, it’s high time that we began paying attention to the effects of marijuana’s smoke on children’s health.
What does cannabis smoke contain?
The general consensus is that the smoke from tobacco is more harmful than that emitted by cannabis. However, this isn’t really true. The smoke from both of these plants contain more-or-less the same chemicals, such as aldehydes and nitric oxide. In fact, it has been reported many a time that higher levels of benzo[α] pyrene are present in cannabis smoke than its tobacco counterpart.
A 2019 Preventive Medicine Reports study monitored air particle concentrations in almost 300 homes which had at least one smoker and one child under the age of 14. The device used to record the particulate matter was a customized Dylos DC1700 particle monitor, which can obtain continuous data on the presence of air particles within the diameter range of 0.5-2.5 micrometers (µm)
The study segregated the homes into 4 categories viz:
- Cannabis only home
- Cigarette (tobacco) only home
- Dual-smoking home
- Non-smoking home
The study found no significant changes in particle concentrations present in cigarette-only homes as compared to cannabis-only homes. In addition, both cigarette-only and cannabis-only homes showed a noticeable higher concentration of particles as compared with the nonsmoking homes.
To analyze the health of the children living in these homes, the researchers took into consideration ailments like ear infections, skin conditions, bronchitis/bronchiolitis, asthma and frequency of the emergency department visits. Once all the details were analyzed, it was concluded that children living in houses with indoor cannabis smoke were 83% more likely to show adverse health outcomes compared to children living in non-smoking households.
Although the study has many drawbacks in terms of its statistical power and use of reported measures, the potential health concerns of passive marijuana smoke, undoubtedly, loom large especially over children.