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Measuring Airborne Emissions from Cigarette Butts: Literature Review and Experimental Plan



Dustin G. Poppendieck, Shahana S. Khurshid, Steven J. Emmerich


Upon the request of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a comprehensive literature review was conducted to gather and analyze existing research related to airborne emissions from non-smoldering cigarette butts. Based on the results from the literature review an experimental plan was developed to measure the airborne emissions from non-smoldering cigarette butts. The literature review found that: 1) Non-smoldering cigarette butts can contain many of the same chemicals found in mainstream and sidestream smoke and they are a potential source of these chemicals in both indoor and outdoor environments; 2) A number of studies have investigated the chemicals found in cigarette butts and chemicals emitted from cigarette butts into water. However, there is very limited data on the emissions from cigarette butts into air; 3) The emission rates from cigarette butts into air may be minimal for some heavy chemicals (e.g., metals, tobacco-specific nitrosamines), but may be significant for more volatile chemicals (e.g., nicotine, pyridine, benzene); 4) The airborne emissions of cigarette butts may be influenced by the cigarette brand, filter material, butt length, environmental temperature, air flow around the cigarette, number of puffs during smoking, degradation of the butt, and smoking method; 5) Much more data are needed on the airborne emission rates under different conditions. Based on the information from the literature review, the proposed research aims to fill the data gap by using a screening tool (e.g. headspace analysis) to examine the airborne emission from non-smoldering cigarette butts under various environmental conditions. Steps in the proposed investigation will include development of headspace analysis, selection of cigarette brand, determination of butt length, generation of cigarette butts, and determination of the target compounds.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 8147
Report Number


Poppendieck, D. , Khurshid, S. and Emmerich, S. (2016), Measuring Airborne Emissions from Cigarette Butts: Literature Review and Experimental Plan, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed May 22, 2024)


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Created October 3, 2016, Updated November 10, 2018