COLLEGE PARK, Md., Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Cigarettes are widely contaminated with bacteria, including some known to harm health, French and U.S. researchers said.
Researchers at the University of Maryland in College Park and Ecole Centrale de Lyon in France found cigarettes could be the direct source of exposure to a wide array of potentially pathogenic microbes among smokers and those exposed to secondhand smoke.
"We were quite surprised to identify such a wide variety of human bacterial pathogens in these products," lead researcher Amy R. Sapkota of the University of Maryland School of Public Health said in a statement. "If these organisms can survive the smoking process -- and we believe they can -- then they could possibly go on to contribute to both infectious and chronic illnesses in both smokers and individuals who are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke."
Sapkota and colleagues used DNA microarray analysis to estimate the so-called bacterial metagenome -- the totality of bacterial genetic material present in the tested cigarettes.
The findings are scheduled to be published in Environmental Health Perspectives.