Direct measurement of toxicants inhaled by water pipe users in the natural environment using a real-time in situ sampling technique

Inhal Toxicol. 2010 Nov;22(13):1101-9. doi: 10.3109/08958378.2010.524265. Epub 2010 Nov 9.


While narghile water pipe smoking has become a global phenomenon, knowledge regarding its toxicant content and delivery, addictive properties, and health consequences is sorely lagging. One challenge in measuring toxicant content of the smoke in the laboratory is the large number of simplifying assumptions that must be made to model a "typical" smoking session using a smoking machine, resulting in uncertainty over the obtained toxicant yields. In this study, we develop an alternative approach in which smoke generated by a human water pipe user is sampled directly during the smoking session. The method, dubbed real-time in situ sampling (RINS), required developing a self-powered portable instrument capable of automatically sampling a fixed fraction of the smoke generated by the user. Instrument performance was validated in the laboratory, and the instrument was deployed in a field study involving 43 ad libitum water pipe use sessions in Beirut area cafés in which we measured inhaled nicotine, carbon monoxide (CO), and water pipe ma'ssel-derived "tar." We found that users drew a mean of 119 L of smoke containing 150 mg of CO, 4 mg of nicotine, and 602 mg of ma'ssel-derived "tar" during a single use session (mean duration = 61 min). These first direct measurements of toxicant delivery demonstrate that ordinary water pipe use involves inhaling large quantities of CO, nicotine, and dry particulate matter. Results are compared with those obtained using the Beirut method smoking machine protocol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carbon Monoxide / analysis*
  • Carbon Monoxide / blood
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Hazardous Substances / analysis
  • Hazardous Substances / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nicotine / analysis*
  • Nicotine / toxicity
  • Particulate Matter / analysis*
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity
  • Smoke / analysis*
  • Tars / analysis
  • Tobacco / chemistry*
  • Tobacco / toxicity
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / analysis
  • Young Adult


  • Hazardous Substances
  • Particulate Matter
  • Smoke
  • Tars
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • tobacco tar
  • Nicotine
  • Carbon Monoxide