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Arsenic Concentration in Tobacco Leaves: A Study on Three Commercially Important Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) Types


In recent years, arsenic (As) has received increased attention as humans may be exposed to it through occupational and environmental exposure. Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) like other crops can uptake this element from the soil, which may lead to human exposure. Here, we report on a survey on arsenic in cured or processed tobacco leaves obtained from Africa, Asia, Europe, South and North America. A total of 1,431 leaf samples of flue-cured, burley, and Oriental tobaccos were obtained from various sampling locations during 2002 to 2004. Arsenic concentration in the samples averaged 0.4 ± 0.6 μg g−1 as determined by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Recorded values from most samples showed that concentrations of arsenic were usually found at the lower end of the distribution. Significant differences were found among tobacco types, sampling locations, and crop years. Arsenic concentrations were rather low in the majority of regions investigated, which is compatible with data from the literature. However, sample size was small and sampling geographically restricted. Our results would need to be validated with a larger dataset.

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We thank Gilbert Schneider (Philip Morris International) for his help in obtaining the samples; Cécile Panighini (Philip Morris International) for technical support; Paolo Donini (Philip Morris International), Steve Haut and Ujwala Warek (Philip Morris USA) for helpful comments on a previous draft of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Nicolas Lugon-Moulin.

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Lugon-Moulin, N., Martin, F., Krauss, M.R. et al. Arsenic Concentration in Tobacco Leaves: A Study on Three Commercially Important Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) Types. Water Air Soil Pollut 192, 315–319 (2008).

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  • Arsenic
  • Metalloids
  • Nicotiana tabacum L.
  • Tobacco