Risks around e-liquids

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Electronic cigarette: what are the risks around e-liquid?


Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate e-cigarettes. The product is broadly used indoors, advertised and sold without restrictions. However specialists are not sure about the exact health impact of e-cigarettes. They need more scientific inquiry and evidence.

What do we know about potential risks ? Is e-liquid safe and vaping healthy?

Maciej Goniewicz among other scientists from Roswell Park Cancer Institute have conducted rencent studies to evaluate the dangers of vaping.

  • Are e-smokers exposed to high levels of carbonyl compounds, inlcuding carcinogens?

The vaporization process occurs at various temperature ranges, up to 350°C. This temperature is sufficiently high to induce physical changes of e-liquids and chemical reactions between the constituents of e-liquids.
Glycerin and propylene glycol, the most common nicotine solvents used in e-cigarettes, undergo decomposition to low molecular carbonyl compounds, including the carcinogens: formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Solvent and battery output voltage significantly affect levels of carbonyl compounds. High-voltage EC may expose users to high levels of carbonyl compounds.
The amounts of these two carcinogens are on average 13- and 807-fold lower than in tobacco smoke, respectively.

variation of levels of carcinogens by voltage

variation of levels of carcinogens by voltage

Conclusion : the e-cigarette vapours contain some toxic substances, inlcuding carcinogens. Both solvent and battery output voltage significantly increase the levels of carcinogens.  These levels are much lower than in cigarette smoke though.

  • Is there a risk of thirdhand nicotine exposure from e-cigarettes?

In the study “Assessment of Thirdhand Exposure to Nicotine From Electronic Cigarettes”, the scientists evaluate levels of nicotine released from e-cigarettes and deposited on surfaces, often referred to as “thirdhand smoke.”
Nicotine levels were measured on several surfaces : glass, floors, walls, windows, wood and metal. 3 out of 4 experiments show significant yet varying increases in nicotine found on these surfaces. The floor and glass windows seem to be the most dangerous. They have the greatest increases in nicotine residue. Future research should explore the risks of exposure to carcinogens posed by third-hand exposure from e-cigarettes.

Conclusion : there is a risk of thirdhand nicotine exposure. Further study is neeedd to determine any risk of thirdhand carcinogen exposure.

  • Are e-cigarette nicotine labels telling the truth?

In the study “Consistency of Labeled Nicotine Content in Electronic Cigarettes: Regulatory Challenges”, nicotine concentrations in 32 e-cigarette refill solutions have been measured and compared to the amount specified on the product labels. In most cases, labeling is accurate but some e-cigarette packaging may be misleading to consumers and can cause involuntary exposure to high doses of nicotine. Indeed, 1 in 4 products differed in nicotine concentration by more than 20% from the value indicated on product labels. Also nicotine has been found in some refill solutions labeled as nicotine-free.

Conclusion : labeling cannot be always trusted. Nicotine concentration may be higher than indicated and nicotine may be found in nicotine-free refill solutions.

Sources:

https://www.roswellpark.org/media/news/roswell-park-researchers-present-findings-2-e-cigarette-studies-srnt-meeting
http://ntr.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/05/14/ntr.ntu078.full
http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2013/03/05/tobaccocontrol-2012-050859.abstract


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