Persistent free radicals in woodsmoke: an ESR spin trapping study

Free Radic Biol Med. 1989;7(1):17-21. doi: 10.1016/0891-5849(89)90095-6.


Free radicals are detected in the gas-phase smoke resulting from the combustion of wood using the electron spin resonance (ESR) spin trapping method. The materials were pyrolyzed by rapid heating in a quartz tube in a flowing air stream. The filtered smoke was bubbled into a dodecane solution of alpha-phenyl-N-tert-butyl nitrone, and the resulting nitroxide radicals were detected by ESR. The radicals spin trapped from woodsmoke are compared to those we have spin trapped from tobacco smoke; the smoke from both yellow pine and oak produce more intense ESR spectra than does tobacco smoke per unit mass burned under the conditions of these experiments. When woodsmoke is bubbled through pure dodecane and the resulting woodsmoke/dodecane solution is held for a delay time before the PBN is added, radicals are detected even after the woodsmoke/dodecane solution is aged for more than 20 min. Similar experiments with tobacco smoke show that radicals no longer are trapped even after much shorter delay times from tobacco smoke/dodecane solutions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Free Radicals
  • Nicotiana / analysis
  • Plants, Toxic
  • Smoke / analysis*
  • Solvents
  • Wood


  • Free Radicals
  • Smoke
  • Solvents