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210Po in Human Saliva of Smokeless Tobacco Users

Meli, Maria Assunta; Desideri, Donatella; Roselli, Carla; Feduzi, Laura

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000591

The occurrence and mobility of 210Po in oral smokeless tobacco products (STPs) were determined because its effects on human health must be taken into account. This research was subdivided into two parts: determination by alpha spectrometry of the 210Po activity concentration in 16 oral smokeless tobacco products of different brands purchased in local specialty stores in Europe and evaluation of its percent extraction into an artificial salivary gland during sucking or chewing operations. Polonium-210 was detected in all samples, and its concentrations ranged from 3.46 to 14.8 Bq kg−1 (mean value of 7.45 ± 3.82 Bq kg−1). The highest concentration was found in chewing tobacco. The samples showed no significant difference in the content of 210Po level. The data obtained in this study show that the polonium, although poorly extracted (12.8 ± 8.96%) by artificial saliva, is not totally retained within the smokeless tobacco products, with a consequent potential health hazard associated with oral use of these products.

*Department of Biomolecular Sciences, Urbino University “Carlo Bo,” Pzza Rinascimento 6, 61029 Urbino, Italy.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact: Maria Assunta Meli, Urbino University, Urbino, Italy, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 10 August 2016)

© 2017 by the Health Physics Society