Study: Exposure to hookah smoke contains toxic chemical acrolein

Posted at 10:03 AM, Jul 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-18 13:20:26-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)--A new study from researchers at San Diego State University is casting additional doubt on the use of hookah as a safe alternative to smoking. 

Hookah's sweet smell and taste have made it an increasingly popular choice for teens and young adults but now the Center for Behavioral Epidemiology and Community Health, say burning hookah tobacco creates a dangerous byproduct called acrolein, a toxic respiratory and cardiac irritant.

But the danger doesn't just affect hookah smokers -- it extends to non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke, too. 

"We found that after spending an average of three hours at a hookah party, the levels of 3-HPMA in urine increased by an average of nearly 1.5 times in both those smoking hookah and those simply attending the event without smoking hookah," said the study's lead author Nada Kassem of SDSU's Graduate School of Public Health.

A 2016 study from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center concluded that one hookah session delivered 25 times the amount of tar of a cigarette. 

Kassem added that all of her current and previous research has concluded that smoking hookah is not a safe alternative to smoking other forms of tobacco. In fact, she said the results suggest stricter regulations should be put in place for hookah bars and events.

"Our results support regulating hookah tobacco products, including reducing additives that produce acrolein, including sugars that sweeten the smell and taste of tobacco, and humectants, which are used to maintain the moisture of the tobacco," Kassem said.  

The American Cancer Society funded the study, which was released in the journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research. 

Sandy Coronilla is a KGTV digital producer. Follow her @SandyCoro