218292 Methamphetamine smoke: An emerging environmental health challenge

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sandra Wells, PhD , College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE
Robert Yokelson, PhD , Department of Chemistry, University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Darin Toohey, PhD , Environmental Studies and Oceanic and Atmospheric Studies Department, University of Colorado, Boulder, Boulder, CO
Andrij Holian, PhD , Center for Environmental Health Sciences/ Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Scott Kindle, BS , College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE
Elizabeth Klein, MS , College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE
Smoking methamphetamine (MA) creates a potential risk of environmental (second-hand) exposure to others. Despite the public health concerns, essentially no data are available on the health effects of smoked MA. Using a unique rodent inhalation exposure system, our laboratory has previously published that acute inhalation of relevant doses of MA vapor is associated with significant injury in the lungs of mice.

The purpose of this study was to determine if MA is directly toxic to lung epithelial cells and whether other components in the MA smoke contribute to this toxicity. We also sought to characterize MA smoke to find previously unidentified compounds in the MA smoke that may contribute to the toxic effects of MA. We hypothesized that MA smoke contains compounds that contribute to MA toxicity in lung epithelial cells.

In vitro studies were conducted utilizing mouse lung epithelial cells to determine toxicity of compounds by LDH release. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, Aerosol Mass Spectrometry, and Ultra-high Sensitivity Aerosol Spectrometry were employed to measure trace gases, major smoke constituents, and aerosol contribution to MA emissions.

MA was not directly toxic to mouse lung epithelial cells. However, the MA pyrolysis product trans-phenylpropylene oxide dose-dependently caused cell death. When heated, MA vaporized into very small particles that likely are able to deeply penetrate the lung. In addition, we found unidentified components of MA smoke that will be characterized in future studies.

We conclude that environmental exposure to MA smoke may present a potential health concern and that further studies are warranted.

Learning Areas:
Basic medical science applied in public health
Environmental health sciences
Public health biology

Learning Objectives:
1.Describe the direct in vitro effects of methamphetamine and trans-phenylpropylene oxide on lung epithelial cells. 2.List three analytical methodologies that can be utilized to characterize emissions from heated substances. 3.Explain the importance of particle size on lung penetration of inhaled substances. 4.Discuss how methamphetamine use by smoking creates a potential environmental health concern for exposed individuals.

Keywords: Environmental Health Hazards, Drugs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present this abstract because this work was conducted under my direction in my laboratory.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.