Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Inhalation of hazardous air pollutants from environmental tobacco smoke in US residences


In the United States, 48 million adults smoke 3.5–5 × 1011 cigarettes/year. Many cigarettes are smoked in private residences, causing regular environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure to roughly 31 million nonsmokers (11% of the US population), including 16 million juveniles. (Upper bound estimates are 53 million exposed nonsmokers including 28 million juveniles.) ETS contains many chemical species whose industrial emissions are regulated by the US federal government as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). In this paper, average daily residential exposures to and intakes of 16 HAPs in ETS are estimated for US nonsmokers who live with smokers. The evaluation is based on material-balance modeling; utilizes published data on smoking habits, demographics, and housing; and incorporates newly reported exposure-relevant emission factors. The ratio of estimated average exposure concentrations to reference concentrations is close to or greater than one for acrolein, acetaldehyde, 1,3-butadiene, and formaldehyde, indicating potential for concern regarding noncancer health effects from chronic exposures. In addition, lifetime cancer risks from residential ETS exposure are estimated to be substantial (2–500 per million) for each of five known or probable human carcinogens: acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, benzene, acrylonitrile, and 1,3-butadiene. Cumulative population intakes from residential ETS are compared for six key compounds against ambient sources of exposure. ETS is found to be a dominant source of environmental inhalation intake for acrylonitrile and 1,3-butadiene. It is an important cause of intake for acetaldehyde, acrolein, and formaldehyde, and a significant contributor to intake for benzene.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Air Resources Board. California air toxics program. California Environmental Protection Agency, 2003, Accessed at

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State-specific prevalence of cigarette smoking among adults, and children's and adolescent's exposure to environmental tobacco smoke — United States, 1996. MMWR 1997: 46: 1038–1043.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State-specific prevalence of current cigarette smoking among adults, and policies and attitudes about secondhand smoke — United States, 2000. MMWR 2001: 50: 1101–1106.

  • Hatziandreu E.J., Pierce J.P., Fiore M.C., Grise V., Novotny T.E., and Davis R.M. The reliability of self-reported cigarette consumption in the United States. Am J Public Health 1989: 79: 1020–1023.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Klepeis N.E., Nelson W.C., Ott W.R., Robinson J.P., Tsang A.M., Switzer P., Behar J.V., Hern S.C., and Engelmann W.H. The National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS): A resource for assessing exposure to environmental pollutants. J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol 2001: 11: 231–252.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Lai A.C.K., Thatcher T.L., and Nazaroff W.W. Inhalation transfer factors for air pollution health risk assessment. J Air Waste Manage Assoc 2000: 50: 1688–1699.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Layton D.W. Metabolically consistent breathing rates for use in dose assessments. Health Phys 1993: 64: 23–36.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Murray D.M., and Burmaster D.E. Residential air exchange rates in the United States: empirical and estimated parametric distributions by season and climatic region. Risk Anal 1995: 15: 459–465.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • National Cancer Institute. Health effects of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke: the report of the California Environmental Protection Agency. Smoking and tobacco control Monograph No. 10. NIH Pub. No. 99-4645, US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, 1999.

  • National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids. State cigarette tax rates & rank, date of last increase, annual pack sales & revenues, and related data, 2003, Accessed at

  • Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Hot spots unit risk and cancer potency values. California Environmental Protection Agency, 2002, Accessed at

  • Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Technical support document for the determination of noncancer chronic reference exposure levels. California Environmental Protection Agency, 2003, Accessed at

  • Pirkle J.L., Flegal K.M., Bernert J.T., Brody D.J., Etzel R.A., and Maurer K.R. Exposure of the US population to environmental tobacco smoke. JAMA 1996: 275: 1233–1240.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Schuster M.A., Franke T., and Pham C.B. Smoking patterns of household members and visitors in homes with children in the United States. Arch Ped Adolesc Med 2002: 156: 1094–1100.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Singer B.C., Hodgson A.T., Guevarra K.S., Hawley E.L., and Nazaroff W.W. Gas-phase organics in environmental tobacco smoke. 1. Effects of smoking rate, ventilation, and furnishing level on emission factors. Environ Sci Technol 2002: 36: 846–853.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Singer B.C., Hodgson A.T., and Nazaroff W.W. Gas-phase organics in environmental tobacco smoke. 2 Exposure-relevant emission factors and indirect exposures from habitual smoking. Atmos Environ 2003: 37: 5551–5561.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Smith K.R. Fuel combustion, air pollution exposure, and health: the situation in developing countries. Annu Rev Energy Environ 1993: 18: 529–566.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tobacco Institute. The Tax Burden on Tobacco: Historical Compilation 1997: 32: 33 Accessed at

  • US Census Bureau. American Fact Finder. Geographic Comparison Table, GCT-P5. Age and sex: 2000, 2000, Accessed at

  • US Census Bureau. American Housing Survey for the United States: 2001, Series H150/01. US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 2002, Accessed at

  • US Environmental Protection Agency. Air Toxics Website, 2003a, Accessed at

  • US Environmental Protection Agency. Integrated Risk Information System, 2003b, Accessed at

Download references


This research was supported by the Cigarette and Tobacco Surtax Fund of the State of California through the Tobacco-Related Research Program of the University of California, Award 7RT-0099. Additional support was provided by the US Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC03-76SF00098.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to William W Nazaroff.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Nazaroff, W., Singer, B. Inhalation of hazardous air pollutants from environmental tobacco smoke in US residences. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 14 (Suppl 1), S71–S77 (2004).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


This article is cited by


Quick links