Monday, September 12, 2016

All e-cigarettes emit harmful chemicals, but some emit more than others

Public Release: 27-Jul-2016
All e-cigarettes emit harmful chemicals, but some emit more than others
Berkeley Lab study identifies two additional carcinogens not previously reported in e-cigarette vapor
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

While previous studies have found that electronic cigarettes emit toxic compounds, a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has pinpointed the source of these emissions and shown how factors such as the temperature, type, and age of the device play a role in emission levels, information that could be valuable to both manufacturers and regulators seeking to minimize the health impacts of these increasingly popular devices.

The study, which was published in Environmental Science & Technology, found that the thermal decomposition of propylene glycol and glycerin, two solvents found in most "e-liquids" (the substance that is vaporized by the e-cigarette), leads to emissions of toxic chemicals such as acrolein and formaldehyde.

"Advocates of e-cigarettes say emissions are much lower than from conventional cigarettes, so you're better off using e-cigarettes," said Berkeley Lab researcher and the study's corresponding author Hugo Destaillats. "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 researchers vaporized liquids consisting solely of the solvents to verify that they were the source of the emissions. In all, the researchers detected significant levels of 31 harmful chemical compounds, including two that had never been previously found in e-cigarette vapor--propylene oxide and glycidol, both of which are probable carcinogens.


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