Cigarette Smoke Testing


Second Hand or Sidestream Cigarette Smoke
Testing Now Available

Most of us prefer to live without cigarette smoke coming from the next unit, floating in through an open window, or otherwise invading our personal space. But in multi unit buildings, it’s almost impossible. You may want to consider an air purifier that contains charcoal or carbon, usually this is a prefilter. Charcoal or carbon will remove odors. During the research phase of writing this post, Consumer Reports was examined. Oh, dear. The first rated portable air purifier was a brand that we have tested before and after and it didn’t do well. We tested this machine for multiple clients. Sad to say that $800 can’t buy an effective air purifier.  In my office I have a WINIX Plasmawave from Costco – $100 out the door. It have paper HEPA and Charcoal. Yes, I would have made the charcoal filter contain more “charcoal”, but in air testing before and after, this machine works well. 


We test for second hand or sidestream smoke from cigarettes. However, every cigarette manufacturer adds different chemicals. Often the chemicals added create additional chemicals as the cigarette burns. There are “marker chemical compounds” that often have little or no smell.

A number of things influence the detection of these chemicals. Here are the major factors:

  • Ventilation
  • Air exchanges
  • Type of interior finishes (carpeting, drapes, etc.)
  • Temperature and humidity
  • Where the samples are taken in relation to the probable location of the smoker
  • And whether the smoker occupied the area tested or an adjacent area.

So, even if you can smell it we may not be able to detect it in the lab.


Ventilation or air exchanges is your best friend in fighting second hand cigarette smoke. If you have central HVAC systems in your building, then run the fan if you don’t need heat or cooling. 

Always change the filter regularly. Purchase or specify HEPA paper filters only. 

Air exchanges and portable air purifiers will show a marked improvement in your indoor air quality.

Please don’t rely on inexpensive air sensors. Sometimes they work; sometimes they don’t.  Without some way to independently test your air before air purification and ventilation and then test again after, there is no way to know if your sensors are accurate or not. 

No Ozone or UV

Ozone creates airborne ozone and formaldehyde. Both bad for people and the environment. Please say No to Ozone and UV. 

We want you to be realistic about what this test can and can't find in the air, especially when the source is a next door neighbor.

However, we have had a lot of successes with this testing. In the case of your neighbor smoking, we would, if possible, test in a common hall as close to the entry of the smoker’s unit as possible.

As there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke, testing may be the only way to stop the smoking or prevent future smoking.

This test doesn't detect marijuana or hash smoke