Toxic substances from cigarette smoke can attach to carpets, curtains, clothes or other surfaces and thus may pose risks to affected persons. The phenomenon itself and the potential hazards are discussed controversially, but scientific data are rare. The objective of this study was to examine the potential of textile-bound nicotine for permeation through human skin and to assess the effects of cigarette smoke extracts from clothes on fibroblasts, neurocytes and zebrafish embryos. Tritiated nicotine from contaminated cotton textiles penetrated through adult human full-thickness skin as well as through a 3D in vitro skin model in diffusion chambers. We also observed a significant concentration-dependent cytotoxicity of textile smoke extracts on fibroblast viability and structure as well as on neurocytes. Early larval tests with zebrafish embryos were used as a valid assay for testing acute vertebrate toxicity. Zebrafish development was delayed and most of the embryos died when exposed to smoke extracts from textiles. Our data show that textiles contaminated with cigarette smoke represent a potential source of nicotine uptake and can provoke adverse health effects.
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