A team of atmospheric scientists, experienced in more than 30 years of air quality research in the most polluted urban environments in the world, have tested the effects of vaping on human health.
The study, published in November 2016’s issue of Environmental Science & Technology, focuses on the affects of aerosols, or “vapor,” produced by flavored e-cigarettes. The study confirms that the aerosols contain high levels of carcinogens, providing a dangerous risk for the user and dangerous second-hand vapor to others.
Flavoring compounds release aldehydes, such as formaldehyde, which is formed by the chemical breakdown of the flavored variety of e-cigarette liquid during the quick heating process inside the device. If the flavor concentration is high, so is the aldehyde level.
“Our results show that production of toxic aldehydes is exponentially dependent on the concentration of flavoring compounds,” said Andrey Khylstov, Ph.D., an associate research professor of atmospheric sciences at Desert Research Institute in Reno.
According to a 2014 report from the World Health Organization (WHO), e-cigarette liquids come in nearly 8,000 different flavors, most of which contain the dangerous chemical known as diacetyl. This chemical has been linked to the development of bronchiolitis obliterans, a lung disease in which the smallest airways become scarred and restricted. It is a permanent disease that is only treatable by lung transplant.
The study found that the amount of aldehydes produced by flavored vaping exceeded the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) for hazardous chemical exposure.
“One puff of any of the flavored e-liquids that we tested exposes the smoker to unacceptably dangerous levels of these aldehydes, most of which originates from thermal decomposition of the flavoring compounds,” said Khylstov. “These results demonstrate the need for further, thorough investigations of the effects of flavoring additives on the formation of aldehydes and other toxic compounds in e-cigarette vapors.”