Chromium is transported in mainstream tobacco smoke at very low concentrations. However, when chromium is deposited too deeply in the lungs for mucociliary clearance, or is in a particle that is too large to pass directly through tissues, it bioaccumulates in the lungs of smokers. It is important to determine the concentrations of chromium that are transported in mainstream smoke. Several reliable studies have resulted in reports of chromium concentrations in smoke particulate that were below limits of detection (LODs) for the instruments and methods employed. In this study, electrothermal vaporization-triple quad-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ETV-QQQ-ICP-MS) was chosen for determination of chromium concentrations in mainstream smoke because of the high sensitivity of ETV combined with QQQ-ICP-MS. The smoke from five reference, quality control, and commercial cigarettes was analyzed using ETV-QQQ-ICP-MS with isotope dilution for quantitative determination of chromium. The method LOD was sufficiently low that chromium concentrations in mainstream smoke could indeed be determined. The chromium concentrations in the smoke particulate were between 0.60 and 1.03 ng/cigarette. The range of chromium concentrations was at or below previously reported LODs. Determination of the oxidation state of the chromium transported in mainstream smoke would also be important, in consideration of the fact that both chromium(III) and chromium(VI) oxidation states cause inhalation toxicity, but chromium(VI) is also a carcinogen. It was possible to separate the oxidation states using ETV-QQQ-ICP-MS. However, determination of individual species at the levels found in mainstream smoke particulate matter was not possible with the present method.

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