I think most people agree that smoking is not the best thing for your health.
Even most smokers agree.
I have done posts in the past about the effects that smoking has on homes and how it can literally destroy them, turning them into toxic waste dumps—-with the walls all covered with a yellow toxic frosting of nicotine and soot. Nicotine is a very toxic substance and in the quantities present on walls can be more deadly than smoking the cigarettes themselves. While the smoker may long be dead and gone, their legacy may live on posing a health hazard to anyone having to clean up the mess later. For infants and small children this can be as deadly or damaging as lead—-and yet it seems to be barely on the radar of most people’s concerns.
This is a perfect example of what the absence of a little hype and the absence of bad press can do for an otherwise perfectly good problem.
Sixty milligrams of nicotine (the amount in about 5 cigarettes) is enough to be lethal to an adult. Historically the stuff created a lot of health problems when it was used as an insecticide. That yellow cast you can see on a home’s walls is concentrated Nicotine—-and should be treated with a great deal of respect. It can be very difficult to clean up satisfactorily in some cases. It does not wash off easily. It does not paint over easily. It can coat the inside of stud cavities if there is any air flow into the space. It can make a serious mess of duct work. The duct work of homes that have been heavily impacted by smoking will most likely need to be replaced—can you imagine trying to clean them?
At an inspection the other day I found a great example of just how nasty this stuff can be in ductwork. In the picture below, one can see the nice new shiny duct work that has been connected to the Nicotine Coated ductwork that runs throughout the home.
One can argue that at least the stuff typically does not become air-borne easily—it can certainly be a problem for anyone coming in contact with the stuff, as it is easily absorbed through the skin. The color of the ductwork might just be more of an indicator of what might be hidden under the paint or inside the walls of the home.
Probably still not a good idea to play inside one’s ductwork. 🙂
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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