Assessing the impact of smoke-free product use on indoor air quality

      Discover the impact of smoke-free products on indoor air quality. Our research, conducted in controlled environments with the Tobacco Heating System (THS), reveals that the aerosol has minimal impact on indoor air quality.

      What is indoor air quality?

      Indoor air quality, often abbreviated as IAQ, refers to the quality of the air inside buildings. The impact of our smoke-free products’ use on indoor air quality is an important element of our scientific assessment program when developing these novel products.

      Indoor air quality depends on concentrations of a broad spectrum of chemical and biological pollutants. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) describes air quality as acceptable when no known contaminants – at harmful concentrations – are present, and when 80% or more people exposed to it do not express dissatisfaction. Indoor air quality can be influenced by many sources. Common pollutants include contaminated outdoor air, emissions from building materials, furniture and furnishings, heating and ventilation systems, indoor activities like cooking or cleaning, and even people themselves.

      How does cigarette smoke affect indoor air quality?

      Secondhand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke, impacts indoor air quality. It is a combination of the smoke that the user exhales after taking a puff from a cigarette (mainstream smoke) and what comes from the lit tip of the cigarette while no one is puffing on it (sidestream smoke). Cigarette smoke is a mixture of more than 6,000 chemicals that are mainly formed or released by the burning and high temperature pyrolysis of tobacco. Cigarette smoke also contains solid carbon-based particles.

      Public health authorities, including the World Health Organization, have concluded that secondhand smoke causes diseases, including lung cancer and heart disease, in nonsmoking adults, as well as conditions in children such as asthma, respiratory infections, and sudden infant death syndrome. In addition, public health officials have concluded that secondhand smoke can exacerbate adult asthma and cause eye, throat, and nasal irritation.

      The public should be informed about these conclusions and guided by them in deciding whether to be in places where secondhand smoke is present or, if they are smokers, when and where to smoke around others. Smokers should not smoke around children or pregnant women.


      How our smoke-free products affect indoor air quality

      Our smoke-free products are not a source of environmental tobacco smoke because they do not produce smoke, but instead produce an aerosol that is significantly different than cigarette smoke. At our research center in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, we have installed a room dedicated specifically to perform indoor air quality tests under various conditions. This room is fully furnished and can simulate different environments such as homes, offices, and restaurants.

      The aerosol produced by the Tobacco Heating System (THS) is mainly composed of water, glycerin, and nicotine. We measured 24 compounds including carbonyls, tobacco-specific nitrosamines, and volatile organic compounds under simulated residential conditions, and found that the use of THS has no negative impact on the overall indoor air quality.

      In fact, when THS was used, the levels of the majority (21) of these compounds did not increase beyond the levels already present as background in our dedicated indoor air quality room. Only the nicotine, acetaldehyde, and glycerin were measurably higher than the background, although all three were measured to be well below the exposure limits established in air quality guidelines.


      Read some of our research on the impact of THS on indoor air quality, and you can find even more related publications in the publications library:


      Or explore studies on our products by non-PMI researchers:

      How do we measure the effects of smoke-free products on indoor air quality?

      Studies in environmentally controlled rooms have been used over the years to assess the impact of tobacco smoke on indoor air quality. Our indoor air quality room (24.1 m2 in area  or 72.3 m3 in volume) is equipped with typical office furniture, an airtight ceiling, and air filtration. The temperature and pressure can be controlled, and the humidity is continuously monitored. Our methodology is recognized by scientific experts in the field and meets the standards of the International Organization for Standardization.

      The ventilation rate can be altered between 37 and 879 m3/h, corresponding to 0.5 and 12.2 air changes per hour for this size of room. The air can be sampled by pumps connected to a mass flow controller. The room also has an airlock to enter it, minimizing how much air can enter the room from outside. The airflow settings can be adjusted to meet the requirements for model environments for office, hospitality, store, and residential conditions, and the air inside the room can be tested in several ways.

      The aerosol measurement methods for smoke-free products need to be adapted and validated to ensure that they can accurately measure aerosols with such low levels of chemicals, as compared to the cigarette smoke for which the methods were originally established. Learn more by reading our publication on the validation of analytical methods for testing the impact of THS on indoor air quality.