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Environmental Tobacco Smoke as a Source of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Settled Household Dust

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Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA
Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA
§ San Diego State University Research Foundation, San Diego, CA, USA
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA
*E-mail: [email protected], phone: 619-594-4671 fax: 619-594-6112 (E.H.); e-mail: [email protected], phone: 619-594-0503, fax: 619-594-1332 (G.E.M.).
Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2012, 46, 7, 4174–4183
Publication Date (Web):March 7, 2012
Copyright © 2012 American Chemical Society

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    Environmental tobacco smoke is a major contributor to indoor air pollution. Dust and surfaces may remain contaminated long after active smoking has ceased (called ‘thirdhand’ smoke). Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are known carcinogenic components of tobacco smoke found in settled house dust (SHD). We investigated whether tobacco smoke is a source of PAHs in SHD. House dust was collected from 132 homes in urban areas of Southern California. Total PAHs were significantly higher in smoker homes than nonsmoker homes (by concentration: 990 ng/g vs 756 ng/g, p = 0.025; by loading: 1650 ng/m2 vs 796 ng/m2, p = 0.012). We also found significant linear correlations between nicotine and total PAH levels in SHD (concentration, R2 = 0.105; loading, R2 = 0.385). Dust collected per square meter (g/m2) was significantly greater in smoker homes and might dilute PAH concentration in SHD inconsistently. Therefore, dust PAH loading (ng PAH/m2) is a better indicator of PAH content in SHD. House dust PAH loadings in the bedroom and living room in the same home were significantly correlated (R2 = 0.468, p < 0.001) suggesting PAHs are distributed by tobacco smoke throughout a home. In conclusion, tobacco smoke is a source of PAHs in SHD, and tobacco smoke generated PAHs are a component of thirdhand smoke.

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    Information regarding materials, sample extraction, instrumentation for PAH analysis, QA/QC, linear regression of individual PAHs and nicotine in SHD in loading, histograms of dust loading in homes by smoking status, and B2 PAH concentration in SHD vs dust loading. This material is available free of charge via the Internet at

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