Assessment of heavy metals in tobacco of cigarettes commonly sold in Ethiopia

Adam Mekonnen Engida and Bhagwan Singh Chandravanshi

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A significant flux of heavy metals, among other toxins, reaches the lungs through smoking. This study reports Cd, Pb, Cu and Zn contents in tobacco of 11 brands of cigarette commonly sold in Ethiopia. The heavy metals were determined by
atomic absorption spectrophotometry after wet digestion of cigarette tobacco using HNO3 and H2O2. The concentration of trace metals in the cigarettes ranged (mean) (μg/g), Cd: 1.3−7.6 (2.48±0.32), Pb: 0.50−12.50 (6.24±2.2), Cu:
2.89−25.35 (13.70±4.12) and Zn: 24.40−62.55 (36.22±7.50) while Ni was not detected in all the eleven brands of cigarettes. Comparable levels of trace metals were obtained in the tobacco of both imported and Ethiopian cigarettes. The
average trace metal contents of cigarettes available in Ethiopia were Cd 1.82±0.39, Pb 4.23±0.97, Cu 10.2±3.1 and Zn 28.2±7.8 μg/cigarette and a person who smokes 20 cigarettes per day is estimated to increase his/her daily Cd, Pb,
Cu and Zn retention by approximately 0.036, 0.085, 0.204, 0.564 mg/day, respectively. The results indicate that smoking and exposure to cigarette smoke is a serious problem to be taken into account when carrying out epidemiological
studies on human exposure to trace metals.