Science News

Smoke Is Poison

Sun, 17th Dec 2006

Part of the show The Christmas Q & A Show

Many of us here at the Naked Scientists have done our fair share of lab work, and I've handled nasty chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene with the aid of a lab coat, safety specs, rubber gloves and a fume cupboard. But did you know that these, and a whole host of other chemicals, are also found in tobacco smoke? Cancer Research UK's latest campaign is called Smoke is Poison, and it's highlighting the fact that although most people know that ciggies contain tar and nicotine, around three quarters don't realise there's some really horrible chemicals in there too. Out of the 4,000 chemicals in smoke, around 69 of them are known to cause cancer in humans. These include arsenic, chromium and cadmium as well as benzene and formaldehyde. Funded by the Department of Health, the charity have teamed up with documentary maker Donal McIntyre to make a series of hard-hitting TV and radio adverts, showing the stringent safety measures that lab workers take when handling these chemicals, then capturing their reactions when they realise they're found in smoke. If you want to know more about the contents of smoke, then either text the word "poison" to 84118 in the UK, or have a look at


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