Tobacco use is one of the biggest public health threats in the world, killing nearly six million people annually.1,2 Despite the increasing awareness of the toxicity of a series of organic compounds found in cigarette smoke over the past few decades, the presence of heavy metals in cigarettes has not been as widely recognized.3 An instrumental analysis laboratory experiment has been developed to determine the levels of cadmium and lead in cigarette tobacco using Anodic Stripping Voltammetry (ASV) and piloted by upper-division chemistry major students at Portland State University. In the experiment, cadmium and lead are extracted from the tobacco and quantified using a commercially available complete ASV instrument via a standard addition procedure. The students obtain the raw current data and subject it to standard statistical analysis.4 This experiment exposes students to the challenge of dealing with real-world samples that connect with real-life problems while developing their knowledge of analytical chemistry and their laboratory skills. Although the experiment is presented as a relatively “canned” procedure, there are clear opportunities for a more active role of the students in the experimental design if that is desirable.
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