Date of Award

Spring 2010

Degree Type

Honors Paper

First Advisor

Melissa C. Rhoten, Ph.D.


Trace metal elements introduced into our environment from anthropogenic sources can become toxic at high levels contributing to a host of human and animal health problems. The purpose of this work is to initially characterize toxic metals present in cigarette tobacco and ash using Electrothermal Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (ETAAS). The broader impact of this study is to assess the environmental effects of cigarette smoking around designated smoking areas on the Longwood University campus. Smokers may not be informed about the potential harm to the environment from "ashing" directly on the ground. If the toxic metals present in cigarette ash are not completely volatilized during smoking, they could accumulate over time in the soil adjacent to campus-designated smoking areas. The area surrounding the smoking facilities could, therefore, serve as a starting point for the introduction of toxic metals into the food chain, ground water, or nearby storm water system.



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