Pesticides Found in Cigarette Smoke

As if tobacco itself wasn't bad enough for people, researchers have found three pesticides in the smoke of cigarettes.

The chemicals, commonly used in tobacco farming and approved for that use by the EPA, disrupt the human endocrine system, which includes the thyroid and other glands and the hormones they secrete.

It was not known until now if any pesticides survive processing and burning and end up in cigarette smoke.

The substances:

  • Flumetralin, a suspected endocrine disrupter already banned for use on tobacco in Europe.
  • Pendimethalin, a known endocrine disrupter that affects the thyroid.
  • Trifluralin, an endocrine disrupter that affects the reproductive and metabolic systems.

The latter two compounds are also suspected human carcinogens, meaning they might cause cancer.

“No information exists for long-term low-level inhalation exposures to these compounds,” said study team member Kent Voorhees of the Colorado School of Mines, “and no data exists to establish the possible synergistic effect of these pesticides with each other, or with the other 4,700-plus compounds that have been identified in tobacco smoke.”

The researchers studied a range of experimental and commercial cigarette smoke samples.