16 September 2020

Dr. Catherine Goujon, Manager Chemistry Research, leads the Chemistry Research organization, has worked to build the Indoor Air Quality work stream from scratch, and presented the related science worldwide as a key piece of information for a smoke-free future. Catherine presents to us the impact that IQOS aerosol has on indoor air quality.

My name is Catherine Goujon. I am a scientist by background, organic chemist by background, and I’m working in Philip Morris for 20 years. My current position is Manager, Chemistry Research in Product Research.  

Let me first explain the key features when we are talking about indoor air quality. Indoor air quality is not influenced only by the level of pollutant in air, but also by any parameter influencing the comfort of occupants, such as temperature or humidity. In fact, reasons for bad indoor air quality are mainly due to outdoor or indoor pollution, and inappropriate ventilation. So, an acceptable indoor air quality is considered where pollutants are not reaching critical level of exposure, and where people do not express dissatisfaction.  

Looking at the composition of aerosol generated during use of heated products, we can reasonably expect significant drop of pollutant indoor compared to combustion products, such as cigarettes. That’s why we have initiated research on indoor air quality.

Environmental tobacco smoke, or ETS, is composed of mainstream smoke exhaled by the user and side stream smoke, which is the smoke generated from the lit head of the cigarette. This is contributing to 70-80% of the whole smoke. ETS is a primary source of pollution of cigarettes. On the contrary, emission from aerosol exhaled by the adult consumer will be the source of pollution for the smoke-free products.  

The aim of our research in indoor air quality is to quantify the differences, not only on the level of pollutants attributed to the use of the smoke-free product, but also to determine the composition of the resulting environmental aerosol. The level of pollutants is compared to guidelines whenever existing, and equally importantly, the knowledge generated is bringing key information to consumers when they decide to use tobacco products at home, for example, and want to understand the differences between cigarettes and smoke-free products indoors. 

Just to be crystal clear, the research provides context and an understanding in places or environments where tobacco use may be allowed. 

From literature, we know that measuring one pollutant is not enough to get a good idea of indoor air quality. That’s why it’s important to have a representative set of pollutants to measure such as markers of combustion, carbonyls, or volatile organic compounds, which are known as major pollutants in air. We confirmed this statement conducting an assessment under the same conditions on tea lights, incense, or cigarettes. We were able to detect markers of combustion, but also most of the known pollutants when incense or cigarettes were used.  

On the other hand, when we look at the results for twelve sticks of IQOS, we see a very different picture. In fact, only 2 pollutants are above background: nicotine and acetaldehyde. And both of them are far below the level of cigarettes, and far below the threshold for existing indoor air quality guidelines.  

By conducting such fundamental research, it helps pondering the impact of smoke-free products indoors. 

Thank you for your time. 

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