E-cigarettes may not contain tobacco, but they do contain chemicals in the emissions that could affect the heath of both vapers and bystanders.
According to Dr. Esteve Fernández of the University of Barcelona and the Catalan Institute of Oncology, Spain, emissions from e-cigarettes deliver nicotine, benzene and other carcinogenic compounds. Dr. Fernández is currently running a European-funded project called TackSHS, short for “tackle second-hand smoke.”
The project researches the effects of second-hand emissions from both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes on people’s health, aiming to help decision-makers adapt legislation to the needs of the population and how to protect them. The studies will take note of different health effects produced by the aerosol emissions of e-cigarettes, many times referred to as “smoke” or “vapor.”
“We know that the aerosols from e-cigarettes contain nicotine that can be assimilated by bystanders,” said Dr. Fernández, “exposed passively to the aerosol and also benzene and other compounds present in the aerosol.”
Dr. Fernández says that it would be an error to study e-cigarettes as traditional cigarettes, advising that the two kinds of cigarettes contain entirely different compounds and may be absorbed differently.
E-cigarettes have also been found to contain diacetyl and 2,3 pentanedione (a diacetyl substitute). The chemicals mimic a buttery or creamy flavoring and can be found in microwave popcorn, flavored coffee, ready-to-mix desserts, oil sprays, and many more processed products. When diacetyl is inhaled, the consumer is at risk for developing obliterative bronchiolitis, a serious lung disease that is also known as “popcorn lung” for the microwave popcorn plant workers that developed the lung disease in 2000.
Obliterative bronchiolitis is a disease where the smallest airways of the lungs become scarred and restricted, and is only treatable by lung transplant.