Toxic dust from smoking settles on surfaces and dangerous volatile compounds disperse in the air, posing a risk to children and others from so-called “thirdhand smoke,” experts say.

The Chicago Tribune reported Jan. 5 that the residue from tobacco smoke is especially dangerous to children “because they breathe near, crawl and play on, touch and mouth contaminated surfaces,” according to a recent study in the journal Pediatrics.

Some parents have instituted no-smoking policies in their homes after learning about the dangers of “thirdhand smoke” — similar to decisions not to use lawn chemicals in areas where children play. “We think this is a reminder to parents — smokers and nonsmokers alike — that if they allow smoking in the home, it’s going to hurt their children,” said Joel Africk, president and CEO of the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago.

The study appears in the January 2009 issue of Pediatrics.