Home air nicotine levels and urinary cotinine excretion in preschool children

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1989 Jul;140(1):197-201. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/140.1.197.


We examined the extent of correlation between home air nicotine levels and urine cotinine/creatinine ratios (CCR) in 27 children who attended a research day care program where they were not exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) during the daytime hours. Average concentrations of nicotine in home air were determined by active air sampling during the evening and night hours on 2 consecutive days. Urine samples for cotinine and creatinine determinations were collected before, during, and after the two sampling periods. In addition, four sequential weekly urine samples for CCR were obtained from study children to determine the extent to which single determinations of CCR were representative for individual children. Fifteen children resided in homes with smokers, and 12 did not. Urine CCR consistently distinguished most exposed and unexposed children. However, three exposed children had urine CCRs that clustered routinely around the criterion CCR (30 ng/mg cotinine-creatinine) that best distinguished exposed and unexposed children. In children exposed to ETS in the home, there was a significant correlation between average home air nicotine levels and the average logarithm of urine CCR the two mornings after the home air monitoring periods (r = 0.68; p = 0.006). In study children, urine CCRs were remarkably stable over the 1-month observation period. Rank correlation coefficients for sequential weekly determinations of CCR were consistently greater than r = 0.88; p less than 0.0001.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Cotinine / urine*
  • Creatinine / urine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nicotine / analysis*
  • Pyrrolidinones / urine*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / analysis*


  • Pyrrolidinones
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Nicotine
  • Creatinine
  • Cotinine