It is not for nothing that a cigarette is called a unique chemical factory. It contains about 4,000 substances and chemical compounds, and about 5,000 in the composition of cigarette smoke.
Gas and solid phase components
Under the influence of high temperature from tobacco leaves, volatile substances begin to evaporate and break down - thus new components of tobacco smoke appear. And non-volatile substances, evaporating, turn into smoke. The main stream of smoke is created during inhalation. In the intervals between puffs, the burning cone of a cigarette emits a side stream of smoke with its own special chemical composition - these are highly concentrated liquid particles suspended in the air, each of which consists of many compounds of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxide and carbon dioxide, as well as semi-volatile and volatile organic matter.
The chemicals produced by a cigarette are classified as gaseous and particulate. The first includes hydrogen cyanide, carbon oxide and dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, isoprene, ammonium, acetaldehyde, isoprene, nitrobenzene, acrolein, acetone, hydrocyanic acid, etc.
The tobacco smoke phase mainly includes nicotine, tobacco tar (tar) and water. The resin contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, among them aromatic amines, nitrosoamines, pyrene, isoprenoid, fluoranthene, anthracene, chrysene, simple and complex phenols, naphthols, cresols, naphthalenes, etc.
It is important to remember that the substances released by a cigarette into the air are only partially absorbed by the smoker himself, and the rest is inhaled by people nearby who are forced to be passive smokers.
The solid phase includes, among other substances, metals in different amounts (in descending order): potassium, sodium, zinc, lead, aluminum, copper, cadmium, nickel, manganese, antimony, iron, arsenic, tellurium, bismuth, mercury, manganese, lanthanum, scandium, chromium, silver, seleniy, cobalt, cesium, gold. In addition, radioactive compounds of lead, polonium, potassium, strontium, etc. are formed.
Most potent substances
The main substance in the composition of tobacco is nicotine. In its pure form, it is a colorless oily liquid. One cigarette contains about 2 mg of it on average. Nicotine is a potent poison that affects all human organs.
Nicotine was first isolated from tobacco leaves in 1809. It was named after its popularizer, the French ambassador, Jean Nico.
Here is a small list of other chemical constituents in cigarettes and tobacco smoke:
- ammonia is a colorless gas;
- acetone - the main component of nail polish remover;
- arsenic - poison;
- vinyl chloride (causes headaches, dizziness, fatigue);
- formaldehyde - a preservative;
- tobacco tar is a carcinogen;
- acrolein is a toxic substance;
- carbon monoxide - a colorless, odorless gas that causes poisoning in closed rooms;
- nickel and cadmium - heavy metals with a toxic effect on the kidneys;
- ethylene is a simple hydrocarbon that causes lethargy and drowsiness;
- toluene - used in the production of paints, solvents;
- urea - additive for flavoring, contributes to smoking dependence;
- hydrogen cyanide - a poison used to bait rats;
- polonium 210 (radioactive, can cause cancer);
- hydrocyanic acid (toxic).