While it is known that ionizing radiation can bring about chemical, biological and physical changes in organic tissue, relatively little is known concerning radiation effects on tobacco and its combustion products. In an effort to study such changes, Virginia bright tobacco was exposed to ionizing radiation at doses up to 50 Mrads, generated electronically by a high-voltage discharge. It was found that tobacco exposed to this high radiation will undergo physical changes such as a darkening, an increase in brittleness, puffing of the stems and a change in aroma characteristics. Chemical changes were found in selected chemicaI components such as water and solvent solubles, nicotine, reducing sugars, dextrin, cellulose, pectin, tannins and lignin. Both physical and chemical changes seem to be dose dependent. Studies on smoke components from cigarettes of both irradiated and non-irradiated tobacco indicate that irradiation had no major effects on the components of the gas phase examined and only minor effects on the composition of the particulate phase.

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General Interest, Life Sciences, other, Physics