Most cars that contain thirdhand smoke will not smell. Automotive companies do their best to mask odors with perfumes and deodorizers. Unfortunately, dealers and rental agencies are currently unable to remove potentially harmful thirdhand smoke residue leaving occupants exposed to health risks. Just because a car doesn’t smell it doesn’t mean thirdhand smoke pollutants are not present. Ion by Knowsmoke is a single-use test kit designed to help you measure thirdhand smoke toxicity when buying, selling, or renting your next vehicle.

Thirdhand smoke is the nicotine and other chemicals from cigarette smoke that remain on surfaces long after someone has smoked. These residues can then be ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin, potentially increasing the risk of certain cancers and other serious diseases.

The research is still emerging, but the scientific community unanimously agrees that thirdhand smoke persists for months, even years, after smoking occurs. Some publications go as far as 5 years.

Exposure mainly occurs via inhalation, ingestion, and dermal (skin) absorption. Children are more vulnerable to ingestion than adults considering the increased contact with their hands and mouth.

People are exposed when their skin comes in contact with contaminated surfaces, such as a vehicle’s steering wheel, A/C vents, door handles, or interior upholstery. Once the chemicals found in thirdhand smoke have attached to your skin, they enter your bloodstream and cause harm to your immune system, cardiovascular system, and central nervous system.

Contaminated surfaces also release toxins into the air that can enter the body through the lungs when you breathe them in, exposing your respiratory system to a combination of dangerous carcinogens. This can cause respiratory complications, especially for elderly individuals or those with allergies, asthma, or other serious respiratory diseases.

Unfortunately, wiping down interior surfaces does not significantly reduce exposure because pollutants are absorbed into the deeper layers of upholstery and carpeting.

It’s very simple! Ion uses similar technology to any at-home test. A small amount of fluid is injected into a vehicle’s headliner where it may collect any tobacco-specific particles. This fluid is then recollected using negative pressure. Now that you’ve collected a sample, it’s time to run a quick diagnostic. The fluid is introduced to a lateral flow immunoassay that will provide a binary result. One line represents a positive result as two lines represents a negative, smoke free result.

Until Ion, there has never been an objective method for determining the presence of thirdhand smoke in any shared-indoor environment. The only alternative is a “smell test”, which is unreliable and easily swindled. Ion empowers users to gauge the possibility of exposure to unwanted, dangerous chemicals found in the remnants of cigarette smoke in just a few minutes.

Positive test results are designed around clinically proven concentration levels that pose legitimate health concerns to occupants. If Ion produces a positive result, spending any significant amount of time in the tested vehicle can have a negative impact on your health.

For now, Ion only detects the remnants of combustible tobacco smoke from cigarettes and cigars. Our team is working hard to better understand the health risks associated with thirdhand e-cigarette and cannabis smoke so we can produce similar products that can detect it.

Yes, but different sources will argue over how much. Regardless of where you look, a positive smoke history significantly affects a car’s value. In many cases, evidence of smoking in a vehicle for sale can be a deal-breaker.

Some publications suggest that smoke history can affect the list price of a vehicle by $350 to $750, while others have said over $2,000. As a percentage of the asset value, experts suggest that depreciation ranges from 7-12%.

Great question! Hundreds of vehicles are tested with Ion everyday and uploaded to our database. We are building a website function that will allow you to search any vehicle identification number (VIN) to see if it has been tested for thirdhand smoke, its results, and when it was tested. We suggest testing any vehicle that has not been tested for at least 90 days.

Vehicle history is an important factor when determining the value of a vehicle. Just like accident history, ownership history, and service history, we believe smoke history should be on the table for discussion. That is why we generate a digital, VIN-specific Smoke History Report for every vehicle tested with Ion for another layer of transparency.