A recent study conducted at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and published by the Environmental Science and Technology Journal, shows that e-cigarettes contain several carcinogens.
Details of the Study
The research tested many different e-cigarettes and three different e-liquids. The researchers observed the vapor concentration of each e-cigarette, as it would take a five second puff twice every minute. Each e-cigarette had a total of 50 consecutive puffs that were each examined. E-cigarette age, type of e-cigarette, battery life, type of liquid used in the e-cigarette, and temperature of e-cigarette were all examined in the test.
Results of the Study
Researchers found that e-cigarettes emitted 31 different chemicals. These chemicals included:
All if these chemicals are irritants or known carcinogens. It was found that the concentrations of these chemicals could range from tens to thousands of nanograms present per milligram of vaporized e-liquid. Furthermore, the hotter the e-cigarette heat coil was, the more concentrated chemicals were per puff. Meaning that the more times that an e-cigarette is used consecutively, thus heating the coil, the more chemicals a person inhales per puff.
Most of the chemicals produced by e-cigarettes are due to the thermal decomposition (“vaporization”) of the compounds in the e-liquid. The heated e-liquid compounds then combine with the oxygen in the air to form these different chemicals, according to the researchers. The six main substances that compose most e-liquids are:
- Propylene Glycol
- Propylene Oxide
Hugo Destaillats, author of the study and participating researcher, stated “Advocates of e-cigarettes say emissions are much lower than from conventional cigarettes, so you’re better off using e-cigarettes. I would say that may be true for certain users — for example, long time smokers that cannot quit — but the problem is it doesn’t mean that they’re healthy. Regular cigarettes are super unhealthy. E-cigarettes are just unhealthy.”
The concern over health regarding e-cigarettes has even led to the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. A move that seems reasonable, considering that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the use of e-cigarettes in middle and high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014.
There remains uncertainty of the full effects of e-cigarettes overtime, however. “When you consider the [e-liquid] itself, 95 percent of the liquid is either propylene glycol or glycerin. The chemicals are FDA approved, the FDA has approved them for eating, not inhaling. We don’t really know the effects of inhaling them.” says Destaillats.