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April Hurlock

Effect of Self-Oxidation on Deposited Cigarette Smoke Composition and Third-Hand Smoke

April Hurlock ’23

Faculty Mentor(s):
Douglas Collins, Chemistry
Funding Source:
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; Physical Sciences Scholars; STEM Scholars

While the implications of first-hand and second-hand tobacco smoke have been thoroughly studied, much less is known about the effects of so-called ‘third-hand smoke’ (THS) on the environment and human health. THS is a collection of chemicals from cigarette smoke that adhere to indoor surfaces (e.g., walls, flooring, furniture, clothing) and extend the exposure risks for bystanders. As THS chemicals stay on surfaces for long periods of time, we hypothesize that reactions between chemicals within the deposited THS film, with previously deposited materials, and with the surface itself may be occurring. In this study, the mechanisms and rates of the former two categories of reactions were probed. Cigarette smoke was collected on glass surfaces and incubated under fluorescent lighting for various periods of time, revealing changes in the chemical composition. The rates of chemical removal and product formation were determined. Notably, experimental data has indicated a decrease in nicotine concentrations and an increase in nicotine oxide concentrations over time, signifying that nicotine was removed by oxidation reactions occurring within THS films. Further experiments were conducted in which cigarette smoke was collected on glass surfaces that were pre-coated with chemical scavengers to help identify oxidant species that affect the composition of THS films. Future studies will look to include a variety of deposited films, different reactive substrate materials, and other environmental factors in order to obtain a better understanding about what goes on after the cigarette goes out.

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