Is house-dust nicotine a good surrogate for household smoking?

Am J Epidemiol. 2009 May 1;169(9):1113-23. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwp021. Epub 2009 Mar 18.


The literature is inconsistent regarding associations between parental smoking and childhood leukemia, possibly because previous studies used self-reported smoking habits as surrogates for children's true exposures to cigarette smoke. Here, the authors investigated the use of nicotine concentrations in house dust as measures of children's exposure to cigarette smoke in 469 households from the Northern California Childhood Leukemia Study (1999-2007). House dust was collected by using high-volume surface samplers and household vacuum cleaners and was analyzed for nicotine via gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Using multivariable linear regression, the authors evaluated the effects of self-reported parental smoking, parental demographics, house characteristics, and other covariates on house-dust nicotine concentrations. They observed that nicotine concentrations in house dust were associated with self-reported smoking for periods of months and years before dust collection. Furthermore, the authors found that the relation between nicotine dust levels and self-reported smoking varied by parental age and socioeconomic status. These findings suggest that house-dust nicotine concentrations reflect long-term exposures to cigarette smoke in the home and that they may be less biased surrogates for children's exposures to cigarette smoke than self-reported smoking habits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dust / analysis*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Leukemia / epidemiology
  • Leukemia / etiology
  • Linear Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / adverse effects
  • Nicotine / analysis*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / analysis*
  • Young Adult


  • Dust
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Nicotine