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Zeolites smoke out carcinogens
07 March 2006
Carcinogens in cigarette smoke could be filtered out thanks to an absorbent material under development in China.
Jian hua Zhu, director of physical chemistry at Nanjing University, China, and his colleagues used zeolites to selectively filter out nitrosamine carcinogens from cigarette smoke, which contain hundreds of different components. They sped up the absorption of nitrosamines by chemically modifying the pore structure of the zeolite by adding copper ions that attract the N-NO group present in the compounds.
Zeolites preferentially adsorb certain molecules while excluding others. According to Zhu, both the porous structure and distribution of active components are fully optimised, creating better synergy between the two and making the selective trapping of nitrosamines far more effective.
Zhu and his team hope the materials will be used as new cigarette additives to lower smoking pollution. The zeolites could also play a significant role in the life sciences, for instance, in slow release drugs, enzyme-mimetic drugs and anti-tumour drugs, said Zhu.
Stephen B Wilkes