EPA says tobacco products are often contaminated with radioactive material

  • The EPA says toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke are the main reason cigarettes cause cancer, but radiation also may play a part.
  • Fertilizers that tobacco farmers use to increase the size of their tobacco crops contain the naturally-occurring radionuclide radium.
  • The EPA explained, “As the plant grows, the radon from fertilizer, along with naturally-occurring radon in surrounding soil and rocks, transfer into and on the plant and are later included in tobacco products made from these plants.”
  • Radon’s decay product, polonium-210, carries the most risk.
  • One in five deaths each year in the United States are from tobacco use or secondhand smoke exposure—that’s around 480,000 people annually or 1,300 people every day.