A closer look at second-hand smoke and its dangers

Using the latest technology, researchers have gained a better understanding of the complex mixture of dangerous chemicals in second-hand smoke – the residual pollution from cigarette smoking – that can persist long after smoking has occurred and pose health risks to others. – Smokers.

The study, led by Drew Gentner Lab, assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering, is featured on the cover of Environmental Sciences: Atmosphere It builds on 2020 lab research in science progress Examination of gases from chemicals from secondhand smoke from humans to indoor non-smoking environments.

The outgassing (the release of chemicals from a material or surface) of smoke from a third party from residual pollution is important because of the health risks it poses. These include exposing nonsmokers to high concentrations of a wide range of toxic or carcinogenic compounds derived from tobacco smoke, even over long periods of time after smoking has occurred—with gas concentrations sometimes at levels similar to gases per second fresh hand smoke. .

Using high-resolution mass spectrometry instruments, PhD at Yale. Graduate Dr. Roger Shaw and other researchers from Yale University and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany studied the emissions of smoke gases from smoke particles deposited on surfaces and from human lung fluids exposed to fresh tobacco smoke. These significant emissions included hazardous air pollutants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

The results show how precipitating particles and lung lining fluids can act as vehicles for these pollutants, but their emissions differ in composition and behaviour. Once deposited on clothing, upholstery, objects or in the airways, the particles can release a wide range of volatile to semi-volatile gases that remain stable over a long life. It can also spread to other substances and persist indoors beyond the time when smoking occurs. Chemicals linger in human breath after smoking as they accumulate in the blood and other organs and tissues.

“Tobacco smoke particles are a concentrated reservoir of all of these chemicals that will be released over time, and the results show that it can persist over days — and in many cases for much longer — for a wide range of slowly released chemicals,” he said.

For example, this study demonstrates a key transport mechanism for hazardous or reactive compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or nicotine, a prominent reactive component in third-party smoke, that helps explain previous observations of surface-level nicotine across a wide range of environments—even those smoked. in which it never happened.

Understanding of the health risks of smoking on the other hand is increasing with an understanding of its chemical composition, behavior and routes of exposure, which can occur in places where smoking has occurred or has been transferred to other non-smoking environments. Using a detailed set of analytical chemistry tools advances knowledge about second-hand smoke and its risks.

“These methods applied in focused laboratory experiments have allowed the detailed examination of many of the fundamental processes that lead to third-party smoke emissions with an unprecedented degree of chemical detail,” Gentner said. However, the findings offer lessons for smoke other than cigarettes, such as the pollution that wood smoke leaves in homes during increasingly widespread wildfires.

The study appeared on September 15The tenth issue Environmental Sciences: Atmosphere The other authors are Tori Haas-Mitchell, Akima Ringsdorff, Thomas Berkemer, Joe Machisky, Achim Edbauer, Thomas Klopfel, Alexander Philippe, Benjamin A. Jonathan Williams.