Long-Lived Chemiluminescence in Cigarette Smoke

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Science  19 Jul 1974:
Vol. 185, Issue 4147, pp. 253-256
DOI: 10.1126/science.185.4147.253


Cigarette smooke contains high concentrations of unstable moleculles that react with oxygen to produce chemiluminescence. The chemiluminescent activity is concentrated in the aerosol phase that can be absorbed on glass-fiber filters and extracted into organic solvents. Cigarette smnoke in N, N-dimethylformamide produces a long-lasting luminescence visible to the dark-adapted eye. We have demonstrated the oxygen dependence and have measured the kinetics, activation energies, emission spectra, and absolute photon intensities of this chemiluminescence. The total light emission from a single puff (35 cubic centimeters) of cigarette smoke is greater than 1012 photons. There was a significant correlation between smoke chemiluminescence anSd tar content. It is suggested that the chemical production of electronically excited states of aromatic hydrocarbons is equivalent to photoexcitation in the promotion of the carcinogenicity of these agents.