CONSIDERATION of the high incidence of naso-pharyngeal cancer among the Chinese1 led us to search for carcinogenic constituents in condensates from burning Chinese incense. Using thin-layer arid column chromatography, several polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, including 3,4-benzopyrene, have been detected by ultraviolet absorption spectra. The 3,4-benzopyrene content was estimated fluorimetrically2 to be of the order 0.4 μg/stick of incense. The free radical content of the tar condensates was estimated by Dr A. Horsfield of Varian Associates Ltd. to be approximately 1.3 × 1015 stable electrons/g (comparable with the figure 1 × 1015/g obtained for cigarette tar3).
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