The most important sources that expose people to butadiene are tobacco smoke and exhaust fumes from motor vehicles.
1,3-Butadiene in tobacco smoke
Butadiene is released in tobacco smoke when tobacco is burned. Additives in tobacco, such as cellulose, paraffin, and sugars, cause the smoke to contain more butadiene. Smokers inhale this substance when they take a puff of smoke (first-hand smoke). Butadiene is also inhaled passively by non-smokers (second-hand smoke).
Adverse health effects
Butadiene is a carcinogenic substance. It has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as ‘carcinogenic to humans’ (Group 1). Long-term exposure to butadiene can cause cancer in the lymph nodes, blood, and blood-forming tissue, such as leukaemia and lymphoma. Both smokers and passive smokers have increased chances of contracting these illnesses. In studies on laboratory animals, butadiene has been found to have other adverse health effects in addition to cancer, including anaemia and skeletal abnormalities.
- L.G. Soeteman-Hernandez, P.M.J. Bos, R. Talhout. Tobacco Smoke-Related Health Effects Induced by 1,3-Butadiene and Strategies for Risk Reduction. Toxicol. Sci. (2013) 136 (2): 566-580.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
- International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
- Sociaal Economische Raad (SER)