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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


LOPEZ, M.J.  and  NEBOT, M.. Nicotine measurement as an airborne marker of environmental tobacco smoke. Gac Sanit [online]. 2003, vol.17, suppl.3, pp.15-22. ISSN 0213-9111.

Introduction: Several studies have demonstrated the relationship between environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and different types of health risk. Despite this evidence, measurement of ETS was highly inaccurate until a few years ago. The objective of this study was to review different studies using nicotine as an ETS airborne marker. Methods: We reviewed the various methods used in ETS measurement, especially the use of nicotine as an airborne marker. Nicotine was compared with other markers, and data from different studies measuring airborne nicotine concentration in public places and workplaces were collected. Results: Nicotine has all the desirable characteristics of an ETS marker. Several studies using nicotine as an airborne marker of ETS reported a wide range of values. In cafeterias and restaurants the concentration varied from 2.3 to 6.8 µg/m3. In workplaces without smoking regulations the concentration ranged from 3.4 to 14 µg/m3, whereas in places with smoking bans the concentration ranged from 0.09 to 0.7 µg/m3. Pubs and nightclubs had the highest concentrations, with values higher than 65 µg/m3. Discussion: The use of nicotine as an airborne marker provides an objective measurement of ETS exposure. The values obtained in studies using this marker show that in places with smoking restrictions or bans, ETS exposure is much lower than in places without smoking restrictions.

Keywords : Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS); Passive smoking; Second-hand smoke; Nicotine; Marker.

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