One hundred non-smoking patients attending hospital outpatient clinics reported their degree of passive exposure to tobacco smoke over the preceding three days and provided samples of blood, expired air, saliva, and urine. Although the absolute levels were low, the concentration of cotinine in all body compartments surveyed was systematically related to self reported exposure. Salivary nicotine concentration also showed a linear increase with degree of reported exposure, although this measure was sensitive only to exposure on the day of testing. Measures of carbon monoxide, thiocyanate, and plasma nicotine concentrations were unrelated to exposure. The data indicate that cotinine provides a valid marker of the dose received from passive smoke exposure. The non-invasive samples of urine and saliva are particularly suited to epidemiological investigations. Detailed questionnaire items may also give valuable information.
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