Cigarette smoke alone contributes to air pollution, a study has confirmed. Relatively small in quantity, the particles in the air associated with tobacco do not, however, represent an immediate danger to our health, the scientists noted.
According to this research published in the journal Environment International ,cigarette smoke releases approximately 22 million kilograms of nicotine and 135 million kilograms of particulate matter into the atmosphere each year.
To determine what happens to these particles, scientists at the University of Malta collected samples using tools provided by the Faculty of Science's Air Quality Laboratory.
Real-time air sensors were used and combined with localized meteorological data to check for atmospheric conditions that could influence the stability of nicotine on the filters during sampling.
While airborne particles are generally loaded with several pollutants, this work confirms that a small particle load comes exclusively from cigarettes, indicating that the air is also contaminated by tobacco smoke.
Although the amount of particles appears to be too small to pose an immediate danger, the marker identified sets a new standard for possible chronic exposure to passive smoking through inhalation of particles, including in non-smoking environments.
According to the authors of the publication, these data open a new avenue of research on tobacco-specific carcinogenic factors present in fine particles, as well as the health risks of prolonged exposure, including lung cancer.