Determination of 14 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in mainstream smoke from U.S. brand and non-U.S. brand cigarettes

Environ Sci Technol. 2006 Feb 15;40(4):1133-8. doi: 10.1021/es0517320.


Tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemical compounds, including many carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). To determine the concentration ranges of PAHs in tobacco smoke and to understand what factors alter their levels, we quantitatively measured 14 PAHs in mainstream smoke from a transnational U.S. brand (Marlboro) and from locally popular brand cigarettes from 14 countries. We used standardized machine smoking conditions (35-mL puff volume, 60-s puff interval, and 2-s puff duration), extraction of total particulate matter from the Cambridge filters, and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry detection. Deliveries of total PAHs in mainstream smoke of local brands were statistically significantly higher (p < 0.01) than Marlboros in seven countries. In four countries, Marlboro cigarettes had mainstream smoke total PAH levels that were statistically significantly higher (p < 0.01) than local brands. In the remaining three countries, the differences in PAH levels were not statistically significant. Under standard machine smoking conditions, PAH levels were negatively correlated with cigarette filter ventilation levels. We found that several local brands containing primarily flue-cured tobacco filler had relatively high mainstream smoke PAH deliveries, in agreement with findings by previous researchers that flue-cured tobacco typically delivers more PAHs than other tobacco types. We also observed that PAHs were inversely correlated with total carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines and nitrate content, but these correlations were not statistically significant at the 95% confidence interval. The findings suggest that tobacco blend and nitrate levels may influence PAH deliveries, but other factors may confound this relation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Carcinogens / analysis
  • Molecular Weight
  • Nitrates / analysis*
  • Nitrosamines / analysis*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis*
  • Smoke / analysis*
  • Tobacco / chemistry
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / analysis
  • United States


  • Air Pollutants
  • Carcinogens
  • Nitrates
  • Nitrosamines
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Smoke
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution