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Toxins in e-cig vapor increase with heat and device use

July 27, 2016

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, have grown in popularity as an alternative to traditional cigarette smoking. But health experts and consumer advocates have raised concerns over their safety. Now scientists report in ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology new measurements of potentially toxic compounds in e-cigarette vapor and factors that affect these levels.

Hugo Destaillats and colleagues analyzed vapor from two different kinds of e-cig vaporizers filled with three different refill e-liquids. They identified several vapor components including glycidol -- which hadn't previously been identified in e-cig vapor -- formaldehyde and acrolein. The World Health Organization categorizes glycidol as a probable carcinogen, and acrolein is a powerful irritant. Testing also showed that increasing the voltage and heat in a single-coil vaporizer (as opposed to one with a double-coil) triples the aldehyde emissions per puff and bumped up the acrolein levels by a factor of 10. Additionally, the release of potentially toxic compounds increased with use. These compounds originate from thermal decomposition of propylene glycol and glycerin, two solvents used to formulate most e-liquids.
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The authors acknowledge funding from the University of California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program.

The abstract that accompanies this study is available here

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