By Nicole Brewer

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There are plenty of ways to avoid second-hand smoke.

“Usually I stay away from the designated smoking areas,” said Mia Youngblood of Philadelphia.

“Try to get as far away as possible,” said Jamie Beiriger, in town from Pittsburgh.

But, new research suggests third-hand smoke is much more elusive.

Researchers at Drexel University found the chemical residue that often lives on clothing, furniture or surfaces, can actually make its way into the air and circulate through buildings, even those that are smoke-free.

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“It took us by complete surprise,” said Peter DeCarlo, an atmospheric chemist at Drexel University.

He uncovered the findings, which were published in the journal, Science Advances.

“Essentially, this residue sits around until it finds particles. Then, it gets transmitted around the building,” says DeCarlo.

In a smoke-free classroom, his research revealed 29 percent of the air mass contained third-hand smoke.

And since third-hand exposure affects people in similar ways to first and second-hand tobacco smoke, DeCarlo hopes the research will prompt more regulation.

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“In the United States, we’re heading in the right direction, but we may need to consider further regulation in other places, where it would have a bigger impact on how things are decided.”

Read more on the research HERE.