Electronic Cigarettes Contain Carcinogenic Chemicals, Study Finds

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are a popular high-tech alternative to smoking tobacco. Multiple research have assessed the impact of vaping on public health, with conflicting results.

While manufacturers of electronic cigarette device always claim that vaping is a safe alternative to smoking conventional cigarettes, health regulators and anti-smoking organizations contend their claim and assert that e-cigarettes are, in fact, hazardous to health, with some emphasising that it could even be a gateway for young generations towards tobacco products.

Now suggesting against the claims that vaping is safe, a new study by researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests the vapor from electronic cigarettes might contain two carcinogenic chemicals, which obviously are harmful to vapers.

The new research published in Environmental Science & Technology has found that the two identified cancer-causing chemicals vary between different brands of e-cigs.

To arrive at the conclusion, the research team, headed by Hugo Destaillats and Mohamad Sleiman from the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, used two different electronic cigarettes, including a cheaper vaping device and a more expensive one, and tested e-cigs’ vapor at various battery power settings.

After analyzing the chemical components of the vapor emitted from the e-cigs, they found that the vaporizers released 31 harmful chemicals, including two previously unidentified possibly cancer-causing compounds. The amount of the potentially life-threatening chemicals produced varied, based on the temperature at which e-liquids are heated to by the “heating coil” of the device in order to produce the vapor. In other words, the higher the temperature of the device, the higher the amount of chemicals emerged.

They also found that a vaping device with only one heating coil operated at 3.8 volts released around 0-46 micrograms per puff of acrolein, a chemical harmful for lungs, while the coil was heating up. But when the device got sufficiently warm, the emission rose to a whopping 8.7 micrograms per puff.

“Advocates of e-cigarettes say emissions are much lower than from conventional cigarettes, so you’re better off using e-cigarettes,” Berkeley Lab researcher and co-author of the study Hugo Destaillats said in a statement. “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 said their study’s goal was to explore more about the risks associated with vaping, so the manufacturers of e-cigarettes, vapers, and health regulators can strive to improve its safety and minimize the harm these devices pose.

“Understanding how these compounds are formed is very important,” Destaillats said. “One reason is for regulatory purposes, and the second is, if you want to manufacture a less harmful e-cigarette, you have to understand what the main sources of these carcinogens are.”