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Measuring nicotine in the air ....

Measuring nicotine in the air ...

Chemists have developed a new nicotine trap to quantify the levels of tobacco smoke a nonsmoker might breathe. According to S. Katharine Hammond of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, since tobacco "is the only important source of nicotine," its concentrations in air can be used as a proportional gauge of more toxic tobacco-smoke constituents. Because most existing air samplers of smoke measure compounds -- like carbon monoxide -- that could result from sources other than cigarettes, Hammond says, "we may have the most specific test for passive smoking thus far developed." Passive smoking is the breathing in of cigarette smoke by nonsmokers.

The nicotine air-sampling system, developed by Hammond and her colleagues, can measure 0.2 micrograms of the compound per cubic meter of air. It relies on a pair of treated filters -- one to catch particulates, the other gas-phase nicotine. Any nicotine in air pumped through the system will be bound to the filters for later quantification using gas chromatography. Ironically, her data show, "low-nicotine" cigarettes contribute as much nicotine into the air as regular ones do.
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Author:Raloff, Janet
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 26, 1986
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