Over 4000 chemicals are found in tobacco smoke, and a minimum of 50 of these are carcinogens (as in chemicals that cause cancer). Out of these 50, 11 are a definite cause of cancer in humans, 7 probably do but it hasn’t been proved yet and the rest cause cancers in animals but have not been proved to do the same to humans. However, many of the non-carcinogenic substances can be just as harmful if not more.
Some of the more recognizable chemicals are;
1. Benzene (a petrol additive) ; known for being a carcinogen related to leukemia. It is a hydrocarbon found in coal and petroleum.
2. Arsenic (rat poison) ; also, poisonous to humans, as it can eventually lead to death after a series of varying symptoms.
3. Carbon Monoxide (car exhaust fumes) ; sometimes known as the “silent killer” because it stops you from getting enough oxygen because your hemoglobin prefers taking this in instead, but it also has no scent and no appearance.
4. Hydrogen Cyanide (gas chamber poison) ; with the right amount, humans can be killed in just one minute. It is also famously known as the poison used by the Nazis.
5. Formaldehyde (embalming fluid) ; usually used to preserve dead bodies, but is also known to cause cancer as well as respiratory and skin problems.
The three most commonly related to cigarettes/tobacco smoke are carbon monoxide (as mentioned above), nicotine (the additive in cigarettes that is just as powerful as the additives in cocaine or heroine, nicotine is also commonly used in insecticides) and tar (a carcinogen that is known to damage the lungs).
Some of the known carcinogens;
1. Cadmium and nickel ; used to make batteries
2. Vinyl Chloride ; when put together can be made in PVC, a more recognizable material. It is very dangerous and depending on the amount of time of exposure can cause different affects. Short-term exposure results in dizziness, headaches and tiredness whilst long-term exposure can eventually lead to cancer and liver damage.
3. Polonium 210 ; a radioactive substance that requires special handling in labs, it can also cause diseases other than cancer.
And here are some other irritant toxins;
1. Ammonia ; often used in cleaning products
2. Acetone ; used in nail polish remover
3. Toluene ; used in the manufacturing of paint.
4. Acrolein ; used to manufacture acrylic acid. This is one of the potential human carcinogens and is the known cause of emphysema.
To summarize, there are a lot of chemicals in tobacco smoke but only a small of amount of some are produced so in this article, only the main ones have been mentioned. But if you are very interested in this topic, then doing some research could give you many more answers.