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Toxicology. 2010 Feb 28;269(1):54-66. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2010.01.006. Epub 2010 Jan 15.

Toxicological considerations on the use of propylene glycol as a humectant in cigarettes.

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Altria Client Services, 601 East Jackson Street, Richmond, VA 23261, USA.


Propylene glycol (PG) is a humectant commonly used in cigarettes. Previous toxicological examinations of the effects on the addition of PG to tobacco used mixtures with several other flavoring agents. In the present work, toxicological comparisons were made of experimental cigarettes containing no added PG against otherwise similar cigarettes with three different amounts of PG added to the tobacco. The main toxicological comparison was a sub-chronic inhalation study with mainstream smoke in Sprague-Dawley rats (exposures of 150 mg/m(3) of total particulate matter, 6h exposure per day, for 90 consecutive days). The target PG concentrations in the tobacco of the four cigarette types were 0, 4, 7 and 10%. Additional studies with mainstream smoke were bacterial mutagenicity (5 Salmonella strains, both with and without metabolic activation, particulate phase only), cytotoxicity of both particulate and gas/vapor phases (using the neutral red uptake assay), and analytical chemistry (41 analytes). The graded inclusion of PG into experimental cigarettes resulted in increases in the smoke concentrations of propylene oxide, at very low concentrations. Broadly similar responses were seen across the four cigarette types, and the responses were similar to those previously described in the scientific literature. The addition of PG to experimental cigarettes reduced concentrations of some smoke components (e.g. nicotine), but had minimal effects on the biological responses. Most of the changes produced in the 90-days of exposure were resolved in a 42-day post-inhalation period.

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