Journal of analytical toxicology

Electron Microscopic Analysis of Surface Inorganic Substances on Oral and Combustible Tobacco Products.

PMID 26286581


Although quantitative trace toxic metal analyses have been performed on tobacco products, little has been published on inorganic particulate constituents on and inside the products. We analyzed these constituents using scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDS). The nature of SEM-EDS instrumentation makes it an ideal choice for inorganic particulate analyses and yields relevant information to potential exposures during consumption of oral tobacco products, and possibly as a consequence of smoking. Aluminum silicates, silica and calcium compounds were common inorganic particulate constituents of tobacco products. Aluminum silicates and silica from soil were found on external leaf surfaces. Phytolithic silica, found in the lumen of the plant leaf, is of biogenic origin. Calcium oxalate was also apparently of biogenic origin. Small mineral deposits on tobacco could have health implications. Minerals found on the surfaces of smokeless tobacco products could possibly abrade the oral mucosa and contribute to the oral inflammatory responses observed with smokeless tobacco product use. If micron and sub-micron size calcium particles on cigarette filler were transported in mainstream smoke, they could potentially induce a pulmonary irritant inflammation when inhaled. The transport of aluminum silicate and silica in smoke could potentially also contribute to chronic inflammatory disease.

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Calcium oxalate, ≥99.9% trace metals basis