Analysis of toxic metals in commercial moist snuff and Alaskan iqmik

J Anal Toxicol. 2008 May;32(4):281-91. doi: 10.1093/jat/32.4.281.


The extent to which smokeless tobacco endangers human health is an ongoing subject of debate. Studies have shown that smokeless tobacco products contain high levels of biologically available nicotine and tobacco-specific nitrosamines. Toxic metals in smokeless tobacco products have been less extensively studied. In this study, concentrations of arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, and nickel were measured in snuff products and iqmik tobacco, a product popular among some Alaska Natives. The average arsenic, cadmium, lead, and nickel concentrations in 17 commercially available brands were 0.23 +/- 0.06 microg/g, 1.40 +/- 0.31 microg/g, 0.45 +/- 0.13 microg/g and 2.28 +/- 0.36 microg/g, respectively. In 17 iqmik tobacco samples, the average arsenic, cadmium, lead, and nickel concentrations were 0.19 +/- 0.06 microg/g, 1.41 +/- 0.56 microg/g, 0.55 +/- 0.19 microg/g, and 2.32 +/- 1.63 microg/g, respectively. Using artificial saliva, the extractable levels of beryllium and lead were relatively low and consistent, whereas barium extracted from tobacco samples ranged from 2 to 21%. The group 1 and 2B carcinogens cadmium, cobalt, and nickel were more efficiently extracted by artificial saliva (30-65% of the cobalt, 20-46% of the nickel, and 21-47% of the cadmium).

MeSH terms

  • Arsenic / analysis*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Tobacco, Smokeless / chemistry*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Metals, Heavy
  • Plant Extracts
  • Arsenic