Acetyl radical generation in cigarette smoke: Quantification and simulations

Document Type


Publication Date



Free radicals are present in cigarette smoke and can have a negative effect on human health. However, little is known about their formation mechanisms. Acetyl radicals were quantified in tobacco smoke and mechanisms for their generation were investigated by computer simulations. Acetyl radicals were trapped from the gas phase using 3-amino-2, 2, 5, 5-tetramethyl-proxyl (3AP) on solid support to form stable 3AP adducts for later analysis by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), mass spectrometry/tandem mass spectrometry (MS-MS/MS) and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Simulations were performed using the Master Chemical Mechanism (MCM). A range of 10-150nmol/cigarette of acetyl radical was measured from gas phase tobacco smoke of both commercial and research cigarettes under several different smoking conditions. More radicals were detected from the puff smoking method compared to continuous flow sampling. Approximately twice as many acetyl radicals were trapped when a glass fiber particle filter (GF/F specifications) was placed before the trapping zone. Simulations showed that NO/NO2 reacts with isoprene, initiating chain reactions to produce hydroxyl radical, which abstracts hydrogen from acetaldehyde to generate acetyl radical. These mechanisms can account for the full amount of acetyl radical detected experimentally from cigarette smoke. Similar mechanisms may generate radicals in second hand smoke. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Publication Title

Atmospheric Environment