A pilot study on nicotine residues in houses of electronic cigarette users, tobacco smokers, and non-users of nicotine-containing products

Int J Drug Policy. 2015 Jun;26(6):609-11. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2015.03.003. Epub 2015 Mar 19.


Background: Nicotine deposited on the surfaces has been shown to react with airborne chemicals leading to formation of carcinogens and contributing to thirdhand exposure. While prior studies revealed nicotine residues in tobacco smokers' homes, none have examined the nicotine residue in electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) users' homes.

Methods: We measured nicotine on the surfaces in households of 8 e-cigarette users, 6 cigarette smokers, and 8 non-users of nicotine-containing products in Western New York, USA. Three surface wipe samples were taken from the floor, wall and window. Nicotine was extracted from the wipes and analyzed using gas chromatography.

Results: Half of the e-cigarette users' homes had detectable levels of nicotine on surfaces whereas nicotine was found in all of the tobacco cigarette smokers' homes. Trace amounts of nicotine were also detected in half of the homes of non-users of nicotine-containing products. Nicotine levels in e-cigarette users homes was significantly lower than that found in cigarette smokers homes (average concentration 7.7±17.2 vs. 1303±2676 μg/m2; p<0.05). There was no significant difference in the amount of nicotine in homes of e-cigarette users and non-users (p>0.05).

Conclusions: Nicotine is a common contaminant found on indoor surfaces. Using e-cigarettes indoors leads to significantly less thirdhand exposure to nicotine compared to smoking tobacco cigarettes.

Keywords: E-cigarettes; Electronic cigarettes; Nicotine; Thirdhand exposure.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Housing*
  • Humans
  • New York
  • Nicotine / analysis*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Smoking / metabolism*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / analysis*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Nicotine