Secondhand Smoke

What’s In Cigarette Smoke?

A Recipe For Toxic Soup

One cigarette contains over 4,000 chemicals — 69 are known to cause cancer to humans and over 200 are known to be toxic to humans. Some examples are:

ACETIC ACID: found in hair dye and developer
ACETONE: found in fingernail polish remover
AMMONIA: found in many household cleaners used to clean floors and toilets
ARSENIC: found in rat poison
BENZENE: found in rubber cement
BUTANE: found in lighter fluid
CADMIUM:  found in batteries and artists’ oil paint
CARBON MONOXIDE: found in car exhaust fumes
ETHANOL: found in alcohol
FORMALDEYHDE: found in embalming fluid
HEXAMINE: found in barbecue lighter fluid
HYDRAZINE: used in jet and rocket fuels
LEAD: found in batteries
MERCURY: found in the liquid that was used in older thermometers (not used anymore as it was too dangerous)
METHANE GAS: found in manure or any other feces
METHANOL: used in rocket fuel
NAPTHALENES: used in explosives, moth balls, and paint pigments
this addictive drug has also been used as an insecticide
PHENOL: used in disinfectants and
STYRENE: found in insulation material
TAR: found in road pavement and roofing materials
Additional Toxic Ingredients Found in Cigarettes and Cigarette Smoke:

CARBON TETRACHLORIDE: also found in dry cleaning fluid

DDT: found in a pesticide so dangerous that it has been banned for use in the U.S.

HYDROGEN CYANIDE: also used as poison in gas chambers

NITROSAMINES: found in weed killers

POLONIUM: found in radioactive substances; one pack of cigarettes equals the radiation dosage of 300 chest x-rays in one year

RADON: a gas known to cause lung cancer

TOLUENE: embalmer’s glue, industrial solvents


Adapted from website information from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Office of Health Promotion, Education and Tobacco Use Prevention:

For more information please contact:

The American Lung Association of D.C.

202-785-3355 or visit them on the web at: