The Investigation of Particulate Matter 2.5 Emission From Cigarettes compared to Cigarillos

As the new decade has begun one of the main global focuses is reducing environmental pollutants. Lately there has been a major push towards electric vehicles to phase out the emissions from gasoline powered cars. However, the major sources of environmental pollutants, also known as particulate matter, to date are not cars, but in fact the agricultural sector and second hand tobacco smoke. While, cigarettes do not seem as popular as they once were there are other sneaky contributors that our experimentation looked to address. Research has shown that cigarette consumption has decreased 49% over the previous twenty years, however cigar consumption has risen 110% and of that percentage of sales 60% were in the form of cigarillos. While there are various scientific studies that display the negative side effects of cigarette use and its second hand smoke emissions, similar studies for cigars have not been as readily conducted. Therefore, our work looked to compare the different side stream smoke emissions and their particulate matter content.

The most harmful particulate matter is 2.5 microns, which is about 100 times smaller than a grain of sand. Prior to conducting the experimentation it was hypothesized that emissions of particulate matter 2.5 would be greater for cigarettes than cigarillos, due to the significantly greater known chemical additives in cigarettes. Ultimately however, the goal was to determine whether cigarillos are also emitting high concentrations of second hand particulate matter 2.5 that can impact human health and global environmental tobacco smoke levels.

In order to test this hypothesis two of the most popular consumer items of each category were purchased from our local liquor store; Marlboro Red Cigarettes and Swisher Sweet Cigarillos. To determine the amount of particulate matter each one emitted a particulate matter sensor was used. At a variety of distances: one, three, five, seven and ten feet, the cigarettes and cigarillos were lit for a total of five minutes. In order to make sure the side stream smoke was going towards the sensor a box fan was set eleven feet away from the sensor. Once this data was collected it was analyzed and reported.

The findings from the experimentation supported the initial hypothesis. The cigarette side stream smoke produced more particulate matter 2.5 from one to five feet than the cigarillos. However, there were some experimental issues that skew the data sets past five feet. In order to ensure the accuracy of our experimental methods calculations were done and cross referenced with other literature. The results from those calculations displayed that our methodology was sound, and that the dispersion in data was due to the fan putting out the cigarette and cigarillo, which would then have to be relit to maintain side stream. Therefore, the data for seven and ten feet was discarded. The remaining data sets for one, three, and five feet show that cigarette particulate matter 2.5 emissions over five minutes are greater than cigarillos.

In conclusion the experimentation aimed to compare cigarillo side stream smoke emissions of particulate matter 2.5 to cigarettes. Ultimately, the initial hypothesis was supported by the experimental results such that the average particulate matter emissions were greater. However, the questions that still remain are whether this difference in emissions is truly due to the chemical additives in cigarettes, and the environmental impact of cigarillo smoke in comparison to cigarettes.

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