Second-hand aerosol from tobacco and electronic cigarettes: Evaluation of the smoker emission rates and doses and lung cancer risk of passive smokers and vapers

Sci Total Environ. 2018 Nov 15;642:137-147. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.06.059. Epub 2018 Jun 18.


Smoking activities still represent the main, and preventable, cause of lung cancer risk worldwide. For this reason, a number of studies were carried out to deepen and better characterize the emission of cigarette-generated mainstream aerosols in order to perform an a-priori evaluation of the particle doses and related lung cancer risks received by active smokers. On the contrary, a gap of knowledge still exists in evaluating the dose and risk received by passive smokers in indoor private micro-environments (e.g. homes). For this purpose, in the present paper, an experimental campaign was performed to evaluate the exposure to second-hand aerosol from conventional and electronic cigarettes and to estimate the consequent dose received by passive smokers/vapers and the related lung cancer risk. Measurements of exposure levels in terms of particle number, PM10 and black carbon concentrations, as well as particle size distributions, were performed in a naturally ventilated indoor environment during smoking activities of tobacco and electronic cigarettes. The particle emission rates of smokers and vapers, for the different aerosol metrics under investigation, were evaluated. Moreover, for a typical exposure scenario, the dose received by the passive smokers/vapers in a naturally ventilated indoor micro-environment was estimated through a Multiple-Path Particle Dosimetry (MPPD) model able to assess the particle dose received in the different tracts of the respiratory systems. Furthermore, on the basis of scientific literature data about mass fraction of carcinogenic compounds contained in cigarette-emitted particles (i.e. Heavy Metals, Benzo-a-pyrene and nitrosamines) and the estimated doses, the excess life cancer risk (ELCR) for passive smokers/vapers was evaluated. Cumulative respiratory doses for passive smokers were up to 15-fold higher than for passive vapers. The ELCR for second-hand smokers was five orders of magnitude larger than for second-hand vapers.

Keywords: Cigarettes; Dose; Electronic cigarettes; Risk; Second-hand smoke; Ultrafine particles.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols / analysis*
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Smokers
  • Tobacco
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / analysis*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / statistics & numerical data


  • Aerosols
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution