Tobacco smoke has been one of the most notorious substances in the planet today. For good reason, it is being tagged as the main culprit for numerous deaths. The World Health Organization reported that about 6 million people die each year due to tobacco smoking. Also, about 600,000 people die of health complications caused by second-hand smoke exposure each year, according to the WHO. Smoking accounts to about 30 percent of cancer deaths in the United States and more than 80 percent of lung cancer deaths. What makes tobacco smoke so deadly? Let’s take a look at the different chemicals that we can find in tobacco.
Formaldehyde is a chemical that is toxic even if the body is producing it in small quantities. It is a flammable gas that is also odorless. The amount of formaldehyde reaches toxic levels when people smoke. Formaldehyde is formed when the tobacco is being burned. Short-term effects of formaldehyde include irritation to the eyes, ears, nose and throat. It can cause irritation that would lead to difficulty in breathing and even cause problems in the lung area.
Benzene is a very powerful chemical that is being used to produce polystyrene, nylon, pesticides and gasoline. Benzene is harmful to the body as 50 percent of smoking-related leukemia has been traced to excessive amounts of benzene in the body. This comes no surprise as benzene is a known leukemogen. Short-term effects of benzene to the body include convulsions, tremors, rapid breathing, tightening of the chest and elevated heart rate.
Tobacco manufacturers add ammonia to cigarettes to enhance the effects of nicotine. This is designed as such to improve the nicotine grip to smokers. The ammonia is added to the making of tobacco cigarettes as part of a process called freebasing. This is done to improve the profitability of the cigarettes and to make sure that the smokers are hooked some more into smoking cigarettes. However, ammonia is very toxic as it can cause a lot of problems to an individual’s health. Ammonia is also used in fertilizers and other household cleaning products that are often being used around the house.