Indoor measurements of environmental tobacco smoke

Publication Type




The objective of this research project was to improve the basis for estimating environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposures in a variety of indoor environments. The research utilized experiments conducted in both laboratory and ‘real-world' buildings to 1) study the transport of ETS species from room to room, 2) examine the viability of using various chemical markers as tracers for ETS, and 3) to evaluate to what extent re-emission of ETS components from indoor surfaces might add to the ETS exposure estimates. A three-room environmental chamber was used to examine multi-zone transport and behavior of ETS and its tracers. One room (simulating a smoker's living room) was extensively conditioned with ETS, while a corridor and a second room (simulating a child's bedroom) remained smoking-free. A series of 5 sets of replicate experiments were conducted under different door opening and flow configurations: sealed, leaky, slightly ajar, wide open, and under forced air-flow conditions. When the doors between the rooms were slightly ajar the particles dispersed into the other rooms, eventually reaching the same concentration. The particle size distribution took the same form in each room, although the total numbers of particles in each room depended on the door configurations. The particle number size distribution moved towards somewhat larger particles as the ETS aged. We also successfully modeled the inter-room transport of ETS particles from first principles – using size fractionated particle emission factors, predicted deposition rates, and thermal temperature gradient driven inter-room flows, This validation improved our understanding of bulk inter-room ETS particle transport. Four chemical tracers were examined: ultraviolet-absorbing particulate matter (UVPM), fluorescent particulate matter (FPM), nicotine and solanesol. Both (UVPM) and (FPM) traced the transport of ETS particles into the non-smoking areas. Nicotine, on the other hand, quickly adsorbed on unconditioned surfaces so that nicotine concentrations in these rooms remained very low, even during smoking episodes. These findings suggest that using nicotine as a tracer of ETS particle concentrations may yield misleading concentration and/or exposure estimates. The results of the solanesol analyses were compromised, apparently by exposure to light during collection (lights in the chambers were always on during the experiments). This may mean that the use of solanesol as a tracer is impractical in 'real-world' conditions. In the final phase of the project we conducted measurements of ETS particles and tracers in three residences occupied by smokers who had joined a smoking cessation program. As a pilot study, its objective was to improve our understanding of how ETS aerosols are transported in a small number of homes (and thus, whether limiting smoking to certain areas has an effect on ETS exposures in other parts of the building). As with the chamber studies, we examined whether measurements of various chemical tracers, such as nicotine, solanesol, FPM and UVPM, could be used to accurately predict ETS concentrations and potential exposures in ‘real-world' settings, as has been suggested by several authors. The ultimate goal of these efforts, and a future larger multiple house study, is to improve the basis for estimating ETS exposures to the general public. Because we only studied three houses no firm conclusions can be developed from our data. However, the results for the ETS tracers are essentially the same as those for the chamber experiments. The use of nicotine was problematic as a marker for ETS exposure. In the smoking areas of the homes, nicotine appeared to be a suitable indicator; however in the non-smoking regions, nicotine behavior was very inconsistent. The other tracers, UVPM and FPM, provided a better basis for estimating ETS exposures in the 'real world'. The use of solanesol was compromised - as it had been in the chamber experiments.

Year of Publication



Final Report to the TRDRP, Award 6RD-0307


Research Areas