A study on particles and some microbial markers in waterpipe tobacco smoke

Sci Total Environ. 2014 Nov 15:499:107-13. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.08.055. Epub 2014 Aug 30.


Waterpipe smoking is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. Research has shown that cigarette smoke, in addition to hundreds of carcinogenic and otherwise toxic compounds, may also contain compounds of microbiological origin. In the present study we analyzed waterpipe smoke for some microbial compounds. Both of the two markers studied, viz 3-hydroxy fatty acids of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and ergosterol of fungal biomass, were found in waterpipe tobacco, in amounts similar as previously found in cigarette tobacco, and in smoke. Waterpipe mainstream smoke contained on average 1800 pmol LPS and 84.4 ng ergosterol produced per session. An average concentration of 2.8 pmol/m(3) of LPS was found in second hand smoke during a 1-2-h waterpipe smoking session while ergosterol was not detected; corresponding concentrations from smoking five cigarettes were 22.2 pmol/m(3) of LPS and 87.5 ng/m(3) of ergosterol. This is the first time that waterpipe smoking has been shown to create a bioaerosol. In the present study we also found that waterpipe smoking generated several polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and high fraction of small (<200 nm) particles that may have adverse effects on human health upon inhalation.

Keywords: Ergosterol; Lipopolysaccharide; Lung deposition; Tobacco; Total particulate matter (TPM); Waterpipe.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Monoxide / analysis
  • Ergosterol / analysis
  • Lipopolysaccharides / analysis
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis
  • Tobacco Products / analysis*
  • Tobacco Products / microbiology
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / analysis
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / statistics & numerical data
  • Water Microbiology


  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Ergosterol