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Identification of volatile constituents released from IQOS heat-not-burn tobacco HeatSticks using a direct sampling method
  1. Bogdan Dragos Ilies1,
  2. Shamjad P Moosakutty1,
  3. Najeh M Kharbatia2,
  4. S Mani Sarathy1
  1. 1CCRC, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  2. 2Analytical Core Laboratoy, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  1. Correspondence to Mr Bogdan Dragos Ilies, Clean Combustion Research Center (CCRC), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia; dragosbogdan.ilies{at}


Objectives To identify the chemicals released in I Quit Ordinary Smoking (IQOS) heat-not-burn tobacco aerosol and to assess their potential human health toxicity.

Methods The heating temperature window of the IQOS heat-not-burn device was determined using a thermographic camera over a period of 100 s. Qualitative studies were performed using a novel real-time gas chromatograph–mass spectrometer set-up. Aerosols from six tobacco-flavoured IQOS HeatSticks (Amber, Blue, Bronze, Sienna, Turquoise and Yellow) were collected in a 1 mL loop via a manual syringe attached to the sample-out port of the valve. The gas transport line was heated to 200°C in order to prevent the condensation of volatile species. Compound identification was performed using the NIST11 mass spectrometry database library (US National Institute of Standards and Technology), where only chemicals with a match of 70% and above were listed as identifiable.

Results The temperature profile of the IQOS device revealed a non-combustive process employed in generating the tobacco aerosol. Real-time qualitative analysis revealed 62 compounds encompassing a broad spectrum of chemicals such as carbonyls, furans and phthalates, which are highly toxic.

Discussion Our findings complement the qualitative studies previously performed by Philip Morris International and others via indirect sampling methods. By analysing the aerosols in real time, we have identified a total of 62 compounds, from which only 10 were in common with previous studies. Several identified species such as diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione, hydroxymethylfurfural and diethylhexyl phthalate are classified as highly toxic, with the latter considered carcinogenic.

  • carcinogens
  • electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • harm reduction
  • toxicology
  • global health

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  • Correction notice The paper has been updated since first published to correct author names and update ORCID iDs.

  • Contributors BDI: conceived, designed and performed the experiments, and wrote and edited the manuscript. SM: designed and made the figures and edited the manuscript. NK: designed and set up the gas chromatograph–mass spectrometer (GC-MS) experiment and wrote the GC-MS methodology. MS: edited the manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology with funds awarded to the Clean Combustion Research Center.

  • Disclaimer The content is solely the responsibility of the authors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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