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Studies of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Cigarette Mainstream Smoke: Identification, Tobacco Precursors, Control of Levels: A Review

   | 30 déc. 2014
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During the period of tobacco smoke research from the early 1950s to the mid-1960s it was repeatedly asserted that a) tobacco and many tobacco components were involved in the pyrogenesis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), several of which were reported to initiate tumors on the skin of laboratory animals and b) tobacco additives (flavorants, casing materials, humectants) were highly likely to be similarly involved in PAH pyrogenesis. Extensive knowledge on PAHs was deemed highly necessary because of their claimed importance in the smoking-health issue. The numerous assertions about the generation of PAHs in cigarette mainstream smoke (MSS) triggered extensive and intensive research both within and outside the Tobacco Industry to define the nature of the PAHs, their per cigarette MSS delivery amounts, their precursors, etc. It was not until 1960 that VAN DUUREN et al. (1) reported three specific aza-arenes in cigarette MSS that were asserted to be involved in smokers’ respiratory tract cancer. As noted in a recent Letter to the Editors (2), the presence of these three aza-arenes in tobacco smoke has never been confirmed. Between 1960 and 1965, other MSS components (phenols as promoters, polonium-210, N-nitrosamines, ciliastatic compounds) were asserted to be responsible for smoking related diseases. However, no major assertions were made that phenols, polonium-210, or the N-nitrosamines were derived from flavorants, casing materials, or humectants. Some investigators did report that several ciliastats were derived from added sugars and glycerol. The ciliastat proposal was drastically diminished in importance by the findings in the 1960s that only a relatively small proportion of the ciliastats reached the smoker's cilia. During that time, pertinent skills and competencies in research on tobacco smoke composition, particularly the PAH fraction, have been developed. Such skills permitted the isolation in crystalline form of 14 PAHs and the quantitation of these and many other PAHs. They were also used to put in perspective the pyrogenesis of PAHs from a) specific tobacco components, b) additives, and c) processed tobaccos (reconstituted tobacco sheet [RTS], expanded tobacco). R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJRT) pioneered the use of RTS (1953) and expanded tobaccos (1969) in cigarette blends and generated much previously unpublished data on the effect of such processed tobaccos on MSS composition.

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General Interest, Life Sciences, other, Physics