Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Effect of charcoal-containing cigarette filters on gas phase volatile organic compounds in mainstream cigarette smoke
  1. G M Polzin,
  2. L Zhang,
  3. B A Hearn,
  4. A D Tavakoli,
  5. C Vaughan,
  6. Y S Ding,
  7. D L Ashley,
  8. C H Watson
  1. Emergency Response and Air Toxicants Branch, Division of Laboratory Sciences, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  1. Gregory M Polzin, 4770 Buford Highway, NE, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA; GPolzin{at}


Of the chemicals identified to date in mainstream cigarette smoke with known toxicological properties, the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are considered the most hazardous group owing to their high abundance and toxicity. In this research we evaluate a recently introduced line of cigarettes that contain charcoal in their filters. The amount of charcoal in these filters ranged from 45 mg to 180 mg and were either dispersed among the filter material or contained in a small cavity in the filter segment. Charcoal has long been used for removing VOCs from both water and air. Our findings indicate that these cigarettes reduce machine generated mainstream smoke deliveries of a wide range of VOCs compared to a similar, non-charcoal filtered, cigarette. However, this reduction is dependent not only on the amount of charcoal present but also on the volume of smoke being drawn through the filter. While a brand with 45 mg charcoal reduces VOC delivery under ISO smoking conditions, charcoal saturation and breakthrough occur under more intense smoking conditions. Breakthrough is minimised for brands with the most charcoal. Overall, the brands with the most charcoal are effective at reducing VOC deliveries under even intense smoking conditions.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests: None.

  • Disclaimer: Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.