Carbonyl emissions from a novel heated tobacco product (IQOS): comparison with an e-cigarette and a tobacco cigarette

Addiction. 2018 Nov;113(11):2099-2106. doi: 10.1111/add.14365. Epub 2018 Jul 10.


Aims: To measure carbonyl emissions from a heated tobacco product (IQOS) in comparison with an e-cigarette (Nautilus Mini) and a commercial tobacco cigarette (Marlboro Red).

Design: Regular and menthol variants of the heated tobacco product were tested. A tank-type atomizer was tested with a tobacco-flavoured liquid at 10 and 14 W. Aerosol and smoke were collected in impingers containing 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine. Health Canada Intense and two more intense puffing regimens were used.

Setting: Analytical laboratory in Greece.

Measurements: Carbonyl levels in the aerosol and smoke.

Findings: At the Health Canada Intense regimen, heated tobacco products emitted 5.0-6.4 μg/stick formaldehyde, 144.1-176.7 μg/stick acetaldehyde, 10.4-10.8 μg/stick acrolein, 11.0-12.8 μg/stick propionaldehyde and 1.9-2.0 μg/stick crotonaldehyde. Compared with the tobacco cigarette, levels were on average 91.6% lower for formaldehyde, 84.9% lower for acetaldehyde, 90.6% lower for acrolein, 89.0% lower for propionaldehyde and 95.3% lower for crotonaldehyde. The e-cigarette emitted 0.5-1.0 μg/12 puffs formaldehyde, 0.8-1.5 μg/12 puffs acetaldehyde and 0.3-0.4 μg/12 puffs acrolein, but no propionaldehyde and crotonaldehyde. At more intense puffing regimens, formaldehyde was increased in heated tobacco products, but levels were three-fourfold lower compared with the tobacco cigarette. Based on the findings from Health Canada Intense puffing regimen, use of 20 heated tobacco sticks would result in approximately 85% to 95% reduced carbonyl exposure compared with smoking 20 tobacco cigarettes; the respective reduction in exposure from use of 5 g e-cigarette liquid would be 97% to > 99%.

Conclusions: The IQOS heated tobacco product emits substantially lower levels of carbonyls than a commercial tobacco cigarette (Marlboro Red) but higher levels than a Nautilus Mini e-cigarette.

Keywords: Carbonyls; electronic cigarettes; harm reduction; heated tobacco products; nicotine; smoking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acetaldehyde
  • Acrolein
  • Aerosols / analysis*
  • Aerosols / chemistry
  • Aldehydes
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Formaldehyde
  • Humans
  • Smoke / analysis*
  • Tobacco / chemistry*
  • Tobacco Products / analysis*


  • Aerosols
  • Aldehydes
  • Smoke
  • Formaldehyde
  • Acrolein
  • 2-butenal
  • propionaldehyde
  • Acetaldehyde