J Med Assoc Thai 2009; 92 (12):121

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Assessment of Nicotine Inhalation Exposure and Urinary Cotinine of Tobacco Processing Workers
Trikunakornwong A Mail, Kongtip P , Chantanakul S , Yoosook W , Loosereewanich P , Rojanavipart P

Objective: To study the composition of tobacco dust, atmospheric nicotine concentration, urinary cotinine
excretion and the subjective symptoms of workers in dry tobacco leaf preparation.

Material and Method: The tobacco dust in air of the breathing zone of workers and the urine samples of these
workers and a comparison group were collected and analyzed by GC/MS. The accuracy, precision and
detection limit of the methods were determined.

Results: The tobacco dust contained nicotine and atrazine (a herbicide). The average atmospheric nicotine
was 0.105 mg/m3 and urinary cotinine concentrations of post tobacco curing process workers was 3.084
microgram/ml. Moreover, there was a significant correlation between the atmospheric nicotine dust and
urinary cotinine excretion (r = 0.987, p < 0.05). The health symptoms of headache, nausea, weakness,
dizziness, and increased perspiration reported among workers had a significant relationship with the job
characteristics of the post tobacco curing process workers, with a p-value < 0.05.

Conclusion: Nicotine dust contained a herbicide called atrazine. Nicotine concentrations were highest in the
post tobacco curing process where workers reported a lot of adverse symptoms. Urinary cotinine can be used
as a biomarker of tobacco dusts’ exposure in dry tobacco leave preparation areas.

Keywords:
Nicotine, Cotinine, Tobacco dust, GC/MS

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