Variability of measures of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in the home

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1990 Sep;142(3):602-6. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/142.3.602.


We assessed the variability of four markers of environmental tobacco smoke exposure in 10 homes with 20 nonsmoking and 11 smoking household members. We obtained exposure questionnaires, saliva and urine for cotinine, and air particle samples for respirable particles and nicotine on 10 sampling days: every other day over 10 days, and then 1 day every other week over 10 wk. The mean concentrations of respirable particles in the 10 homes ranged from 32.4 to 76.9 micrograms/m3, and concentrations of nicotine ranged from 0.6 to 6.9 micrograms/m3. Linear regression models that included indicator variables for self-reported exposure explained 9 and 6% of the variability of the respirable particle and the nicotine concentrations, respectively. The individual mean urinary cotinine levels standardized to creatinine concentration ranged from 3.9 to 55.8 ng/mg Cr, and for salivary cotinine the mean levels ranged from 0.9 to 4.3 ng/ml. Indicator variables for self-reported exposure explained 8 and 23% of the variability of the urinary and salivary cotinine levels, respectively. We conclude that because of the marked variability of these measures, multiple measurements are needed to establish a stable profile of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in the home.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cotinine / analysis*
  • Cotinine / urine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pyrrolidinones / analysis*
  • Saliva / analysis
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Pyrrolidinones
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Cotinine