I’m treading into dangerous territory today with this informative article. As I too am part of the cloud-chasing community, I know how touchy this subject can be to all of us. Yet if our innocent habit is actually a vaping health hazard, we should be well aware of it.
Electronic cigarettes are products that deliver nicotine to users in form of vapor (aerosol)by heating a solution generally made of propylene glycol, nicotine, glycerin, and flavorings. Propylene glycol consists about 90% of the solution, and is a solvent used in foods that has been approved by the FDA. So far so good, but a number of studies uncovered a whole list of toxic contaminants in e-liquids that constitute a literal vaping health hazard.
Chemicals behind the vaping health hazard
Williams at al. found levels of chromium, lead and nickel in e-cigarette aerosol in equivalent amounts to cigarette smoke. The primary source of these toxic metals are considered to be the filaments inside the e-cigarette atomizer.
A study of Japanese e-liquids brands revealed that they contained several dangerous carbonyl compounds : formaldehyde, acetone, acetaldehyde, propanal, butanal, acrolein, crotonaldehyde, methylglyoxal and glyoxal. The compounds appear due to the oxidation of glycerol and propylene glycol with nichrome wire.
Furthermore, battery output voltage affects the concentration of the carbonyl compounds in the emission. To take it a step further, some e-cigarettes permit users to obtain an increased vapor production and nicotine output by changing the output voltage on their battery.
Studies demonstrated that you increase the levels of acetaldehyde, formaldehyde and acetone between 4 and 200 times by simply cranking up the voltage on your battery from 3.2 to 4.8 V. Actually, high voltage devices will produce the same levels of formaldehyde in your delicious vapor as those found in regular cigarette smoke. More cloud and more vaping health hazard.
Why is this so alarming? Well only because the formaldehyde International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies formaldehyde as a human carcinogen, while acetaldehyde is “only” possibly carcinogenic to humans. So e-cigarettes are not all that cancer-free as they’re cracked up to be.
The acrolein found in e-liquid has been found to damage the lung linning tissue and cause irritation of the nasal cavity.
Another study by Vardavas et al. analyzed the exhaled air of smokers who vaped for 5 minutes and found decreased amounts of nitric oxide and an increase in peripheral airway resistance. This showed that intense vaping causes oxidative stress build up and inflammation of airways.
Nicotine has been linked to dysfunction of endothelial tissue and systemic inflammation, while glycerin in e-liquids has been proven to cause lipoid pneumonia. The propylene glycol mist itself is not all that harmless as well, as it increases the risk of developing asthma and produces irritation of the eyes and respiratory system.
The most commonly observed symptom associated with compounds found in e-liquid are: a dry throat and mouth. Other health problems considered to be associated with intense use of e-cigarette are simple stuff really, just your run of the mill hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonitis, cardiac arrhythmias, disorientation, congestive heart failure and hypotension.
Nothing to fret about so far, right?
Much to our misfortune, the amounts of nicotine specified on labels do not always coincide with the actual concentration existent in the bottle. Inconsistent concentration of nicotine could very well be the reason why some users experience adverse reactions such as irritation, headache, mouth and throat irritation, nausea, dizziness, and others don’t. These symptoms being signs of nicotine overdose. It is important to known that the lethal dose of nicotine is estimated to be 10 mg for children and between 60 – 120 mg for adults. Nicotine overdose will always be a problematic vaping health hazard.
A real vaping health hazard is Diacetyl. A food flavoring compound used in a wide variety of flavors in addition to common butter flavor. Prolonged exposure and inhalation of this chemical has been associated with the development of bronchiolitis obliterans or “popcorn lung” in factory workers. Popcorn lung has no known cure and symptoms include primarily cough and shortness of breath, but some people may develop fever, night sweats and weight loss.
Oh I’m sorry, let us be completely accurate here. There is somewhat of a cure for popcorn lung : lung transplant. Joy !
Diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione and acetoin are used for achieving a wide range of flavors in the manufacturing process of many foods. These are also commonly used for creating sweet flavored e-liquids such as : Cupcake, Watermelon, Fruit Squirts, Cotton Candy, Tutti Frutti, Sweet Apple, Blue Water, Alien Blood, Punch, Oatmeal Cookie, Raspberry Sorbet etc.
A research on e-liquids tested 51 flavors and found that 39 of them contained increased amounts of diacetyl. While 2,3-pentanedione and acetoin was found in 23 and 46 out of 51 of the tested liquids. Another particularly alarming discovery is that these compounds were found in tobacco and menthol flavors, even though they we’re listed as flavors that do not contain diacetyl.
Goes to show you that reading the fine print is not always enough.
Now we all understand very well that anything you attempt to pump in your lungs cannot possibly be healthy, but it is important to realize that so far only short term effects of vaping can be studied. Nobody knows what will happen in the long run, and if our substitute for cigarettes is actually a vaping health hazard.
We’re all free to enjoy our vices as we please. But if you’re going to pump your body full of chemicals, be aware of it.
If you would like more details on the subject or if you have any questions, objections, hateful comments or highly deserved praises to offer please do not hesitate to leave a comment.
Also if you have a product that you would like me to review and research, I gladly welcome the challenge.
Research Sources : ncbi1 , ncbi2 , ncbi3 , ncbi 4 .
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Looking forward to your next article “driving health hazard” where you cite that driving face first in to a brick wall has been found to lead to trauma of the head and body.
Cranking up the voltage and not supplying air flow will result in carcinogens. Yes, you’re correct. However, that hit is called a “dry hit” and tastes like hot death. You know that something bad has happened and you fix the issue instead of continuing to get that bad reaction.
Next up: Diacetyl! Holy cow, something the vaping community has known about for years! Reputable liquid companies have either never used it or its other buttery brothers or have completely stopped since the last public outcry MONTHS ago.
Stop trying to sound better informed by being contriving. You’re offering harmful information to those wishing to quit smoking by making it seem like vaping is some how WORSE than smoking. You look like a moron to anyone who knows anything about the subject matter and genuinely anger me personally.
Short and to the point: Formaldehyde is found in regular exhaled breath (it’s part of the breathing process) and is found in high concentration in cigarette smoke. Diacetyl is found in cigarette smoke at levels 210 times more potent than E-cigarettes. Cigarettes are worse for you in every way possible. If it’s smoking VS ecigs then smoking LOSES, Ecigs WIN.
If it’s NOTHING vs. Ecigs then you’re better off doing nothing at all. Same goes for drinking soda, eating candy, using body wash/shampoo, driving, using a cell phone…. The list goes on. How about we keep it simple though?
UNEQUIVOCALLY E-cigarettes are MUCH better for your health as an alternative to Smoking. Hands down, no rebuttals, it’s a safer and healthier alternative.
Thank you for your feedback. We didn’t compare e-cigs with cigarettes – we agree that as an alternative way to smoke, e-cigarettes is the way to go, since regular cigarettes are waaaay more harmful. I’m also using an ecig. But the point of the article was to inform people that vaping also has some risks, and from what I’ve understood, not everyone is well aware what those risks are – because many think that they are harmless -and of course, there is no need to say that any kind of abuse is bad for you 🙂
A little research would do this journalist (I use the world loosely here) a world of good.
Hi Michelle, thank you for your feedback. Please find the links to the studies used at the end of the article. Best wishes, Vlad.
Hey Vlad try some real research http://www.ecigarette-research.org/research/index.php
I actually put my e-vaping device down. The author right about the nose cavity, I sometime find myself vaping, and my nose starts to run. Its a coincidence that I happen to be vaping at the same time. Please, do not discredit the writer by informing us the other risks involved in vaping.
Here is a three minute read, on how vaping help me quit smoking cigarettes.