Secondary organic aerosol formation from ozone-initiated reactions with nicotine and secondhand tobacco smoke

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Journal Article

Date Published



We used controlled laboratory experiments to evaluate the aerosol-forming potential of ozone reactions with nicotine and secondhand smoke. Special attention was devoted to real-time monitoring of the particle size distribution and chemical composition of SOA as they are believed to be key factors determining the toxicity of SOA. The experimental approach was based on using a vacuum ultraviolet photon ionization time-of-flight aerosol mass spectrometer (VUV-AMS), a scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS) and off-line thermal desorption coupled to mass spectrometry (TD-GC-MS) for gas-phase byproducts analysis. Results showed that exposure of SHS to ozone induced the formation of ultrafine particles (<100 nm) that contained high molecular weight nitrogenated species (m/z 400–500), which can be due to accretion/acid–base reactions and formation of oligomers. In addition, nicotine was found to contribute significantly (with yields 4–9%) to the formation of secondary organic aerosol through reaction with ozone. The main constituents of the resulting SOA were tentatively identified and a reaction mechanism was proposed to elucidate their formation. These findings identify a new component of thirdhand smoke that is associated with the formation of ultrafine particles (UFP) through oxidative aging of secondhand smoke. The significance of this chemistry for indoor exposure and health effects is highlighted.


Atmospheric Environment



Year of Publication