This article provides an overview of the hair nicotine biomarker for assessment of exposure to tobacco smoke, with emphasis on environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Measurement of nicotine in hair can be an informative tool for research looking at ETS and related illnesses. There are still unresolved issues in relation to this biomarker such as influence of hair treatment, hair colour, and growth rate on nicotine levels in hair, which need to be addressed in order to further refine this biomarker for exposure assessment. Nevertheless, hair nicotine promises to be a valid and reliable measure of longer term exposure that can be readily applied in epidemiological studies of exposure to tobacco smoke, and more specifically ETS, and its risk to health.
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