Electronic Cigarette Liquids Can Become Irritants Through The Vaping Process: Study

As concerns continue to mount over the safety of vaping, the findings of new research suggest that the e-cigarette liquid ingredients may mix to form new chemicals, which are harmful to the human body. 

In a study published a last week in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, researchers from Yale report that they found that e-liquids formed new compounds after mixing and during storage which could have unexpected health effects.

Researchers vaporized and analyzed 10 e-cigarette liquids with two flavors and five different propylene glycol ratios for each flavor. Propylene glycol ratios are the amount of solvent used in e-liquids.

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The study indicated nearly 40% of flavor aldehydes were converted to flavor aldehyde propylene glycol (PG) acetals, a new chemical compound. This finding is in line with research published earlier this year indicating e-cigarettes may expose users to carcinogenic compounds.

Researchers  determined that anywhere from 50 percent to 80 percent of acetals carried over to e-cigarette vapor. This means a large portion of the new compounds are able to reach the airways during vaping because they stay in the e-cigarette vapor.

The acetals remained stable in water with a half life of 36 hours. Thus, the chemicals would convert into new chemicals and stay in the body for up to 36 hours, the researchers noted.

The newly converted acetals are not listed on e-liquid ingredient labels because they are produced after the compounds are mixed. They are not ingredients put into the liquid during manufacturing.

The research indicates the liquid can be chemically unstable with reactions happening between flavors and solvent components after mixing at room temperature. Additionally the chemicals create compounds with harmful toxicological properties different from both the initial flavor chemicals or the solvent.

Because the chemicals are created during mixing, the compounds are still exerting an effect on the body during vaping. The newly created compounds can cause irritation to the airways, potentially causing serious side effects such as pneumonia and other respiratory problems.

Researchers indicated the new chemicals identified in the study activate nerve endings in the nose, mouth, and throat more strongly and are shown in other studies to cause inflammation and contribute to emphysema. Another study published in August linked vaping to increased damage to the DNA in a person’s mouth due to irritation and inflammation.

“These findings suggest that the reporting of manufacturing ingredients of e-liquids is insufficient for a safety assessment,” wrote study authors. “The establishment of an analytical workflow to detect newly formed compounds in e-liquids and their potential toxicological effects is imperative for regulatory risk analysis.”


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