Determining Thallium in a Commercial Tobacco Brand Available in Poland

Bożena Karbowska, Włodzimierz Zembrzuski
2016 Polish Journal of Environmental Studies  
It is estimated that approximately 10 million cigarettes are smoked every minute in the world and that the number of smokers is now about 1.3 billion people [1] . The health hazards associated with smoking tobacco are mainly caused by the presence of numerous chemical compounds. To date, more than 4,000 different chemicals (including hydrocarbons, aldehydes, ketones, and aromatic hydrocarbons) have been isolated from tobacco [2] . These substances also include heavy metals such as lead,
more » ... ch as lead, arsenic, and cadmium, which are mainly absorbed from the soil and accumulate in leaves. It is believed that the presence of heavy metals in cigarette smoke may be responsible for the loss of health in active and passive smokers. Moreover, exposure to heavy metals associated with smoking is often correlated with cancer incidence and mortality [3] [4] [5] . Studies show that metal concentrations are higher in pulmonary tissues of lung cancer cases than controls [6] . Recent studies have confirmed that, aside from other heavy metals, tobacco may also contain thallium [7] . Thallium is considered to be severely toxic for humans, animals, plants, and microorganisms [8] . It is absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes, spreads rapidly in the body, and accumulates in bones, kidneys, and throughout the central nervous system [9] . The toxic effect of thallium is caused by its similarity to the potassium (I) ion, which results in potassium-associated metabolic process disorders [10] . The toxicity of this element is higher compared to mercury, cadmium, and lead (maximum admissible concentration at 0.1 mg/ml) [8] . It is believed that the maximum dose of thallium should not exceed 15 micrograms, and the LD 50 for humans is 8-12 mgTl×kg -1 [11] [12] . A high dose of thallium received over a short period of time may even lead to death. Diagnosis of thallium poisoning is very complicated, therefore its confirmation requires chemical analysis. The symptoms of thallium poisoning in the case of exceeding the maximum permissible doses are: vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, and disturbance in the functioning of the nervous system, lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys. Abstract This study focused on determining thallium content in tobacco samples collected from a commercial cigarette brand commonly available in Poland (manufactured by Philip Morris). The samples were analyzed with the use of differential pulse anodic stripping voltammetry (DPASV) coupled with a flow injection analysis (FIA) system. The obtained results confirmed that thallium was present in the studied tobacco samples (average content at 0.0089 ±0.0012µg/g). These findings suggest that cigarette smokers in Poland may be exposed to the toxic effects of thallium-based compounds present in tobacco.
doi:10.15244/pjoes/61951 fatcat:4kill6z355ashhdvjpdgrri6cy