Nanoparticles in cigarette smoke; real-time undiluted measurements by a scanning mobility particle sizer

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2011 Apr;399(10):3573-8. doi: 10.1007/s00216-011-4701-4. Epub 2011 Feb 10.


Cigarette smoke is a complex mixture of smoke constituents, often characterised by size-resolved particle distributions. Since descriptions of ultrafine particles <50 nm are absent, our aim was to explore the existence of these nanoparticles in fresh and undiluted cigarette smoke. We measured undiluted smoke particles real-time by a scanning mobility particle sizer with Faraday cup electrometer, integrated in our custom-made smoking machine. Cigarettes were smoked by 2 s puffs, 30 s puff intervals and 50 ml puff volume. We tested six different cigarettes (1-10 mg tar per cigarette) at ten particle size-ranges between 6 and 50 nm, and repeated measurements five times. The formation of nanoparticles in fresh cigarette smoke was observed over the entire range between 6 and 50 nm, and reproduced in all cigarettes. The highest mean yield was 8.8 × 10(9) (SD = 1.1 × 10(9)) particles per cigarette at the largest particle size range by high-tar cigarettes. Nanoparticle counts appear to increase with particle size, claimed tar values and blocking of filter ventilation holes, and inversely with butt length. Fresh undiluted cigarette smoke contains large amounts of potentially toxic nanoparticles <50 nm. We recommend to further study nanoparticles in the characterisation of cigarette smoke.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Chemistry Techniques, Analytical / methods*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Particle Size
  • Smoke / analysis*
  • Tobacco / chemistry*


  • Smoke