Determination of heavy metals in Kenyan cigarettes, tobacco leaves and intercropped plants by atomic absorption spectrophotometry.
Mitei, Yulita C.
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Recent studies have indicated an increasing concern for the role that cadmium and lead play or are suspected to play in biological and physiological disorders such as emphysema of the lungs, renal tubular damage, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Studies have revealed that cigarettes contain some heavy metals and that smoking involves the inhalation of small amounts of metals such as cadmium and lead. Since absorption from the lungs is usually complete, heavy smokers tend to absorb more of these metals. Given that both metals are accumulative in nature with long biological half-lives, smokers accumulate twice the amount accumulated by non-smokers. The study set out to find out whether Kenyan Smokers (Passive and active) are exposed to high levels of these heavy metals, to compare the levels in the cigarette tobacco with those in fresh tobacco leaves and to compare the levels in the fresh tobacco leaves with those in other crop plants grown in the same locality. In this study levels of cadmium, lead and Zinc were determined in fresh, cured/processed tobacco leaves, soil and other crop plants growing in the same locality. Levels in eight Kenyan cigarette brands currently in the market were also determined. For this the Spectr AA-10 Varian Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (AAS) (Varian Techtron Pty. Ltd. Australia) was utilized. The results reveal that the cadmium levels in Kenyan cigarettes compare well with those reported in the literature; However, the levels of lead and zinc were found to be higher than those reported in the literature. Also evident are higher than in the fresh tobacco leaves. This may indicate contamination during processing. The results also show that there is no significant differences in cadium and lead levels in fresh tobacco leaves and in the cured/processed leaves, thus the curing process does not seen to affect the metal levels in the tobacco leaves. This is however not the case with zinc. On the contrary the levels of zinc in fresh leaves are significantly higher than in the cured/processed leaves. Therefore the curing process seems to lower its levels. The levels of these heavy metals in other crop plants either higher or lower than those in tobacco leaves.
- PHD-Chemistry