More evidence that e-cigarettes pollute the air and expose bystanders

July 25, 2016

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Jan Czogala and colleagues just published “Secondhand exposure to vapors from electronic cigarettes” in Nicotine and Tobacco Research in which they measured the air pollution produced by e-cigarettes using both smoking machines and, more important, actual use by people in the same room.
They found, not surprisingly, that e-cigarettes pollute the air with nicotine and fine particles.  This is what one would expect because, unlike conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes do not generate any sidestream smoke because they do not smolder between puffs the way conventional cigarettes do.  Because they do not burn tobacco, they do not put combustion products into the air.
Significantly, as Czogala and colleagues note, despite the lower level of nicotine pollution that e-cigarettes produce, people exposed to this air have similar levels of cotinine (a measure of the amount of nicotine taken into their bodies) as people exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke.  The reason for this is not clear, but they suggest that “the vapor from e-cigarettes might be easily deposited on surfaces to form ‘thirdhand’ e-cigarette vapor.”  (Similar results have been reported in people living with e-cigarette and cigarette smokers.)
In the studies of actual people using e-cigarettes (bottom part of their Table 1), the most realistic part of the study, average particle levels increased from 32.4 µg/m3 at baseline to 151.7 µg/m3.  While lower than with cigarettes (819.3 µg/m3), 151.7 µg/m3 is still well above the acceptable level of 12 µg/m3.
In addition, this study likely underestimates the particle exposure because the Sidepak AM510 device they used to measure particles has a cutoff of 0.1 µm and many e-cigarettes generate particles smaller than that.



Your study of second hand pot smoke and some about e cigs and vapourisers begs a question?
Is second hand/public marijuana vapour as dangerous as second hand marijuana smoke?
Vapourisation is a big thing these days.  people think using vapes is far healthier than smoking pot.  Personally it certainly feels that way.  Since I stopped smoking pot ans started using a vapouriser my ability to exercise for long periods of time and the way my lung function feels during exercise is heaps better thasn it was.  Very scientific I know.  Its definitely noticable tho.  The exercise I used to do is easier since I stopped smoking and started using a vape and it feels like my lungs aren't working as hard.  Thy don't feel the sort of scouring they did when I smoked or when exposed to large amounts of smoke in the environment.  (I'm a volunteer bushfire fighter and sometimes get massive exposures.)
The study you referenced above (26/7/16) by Jan Czogala is very interesting.  Personally I think its obvious that second nicotine will result from e cig use, and as someone who became addicted to cigarettes (i've since quit but it took 20 years) working in a pub/nightclub 25 years ago when smoking in pubs was legal (it isn't any more in Australia, where I live btw/obviously) this is a serious danger imo.  Nicotine addiction is hard to break.
If you do end up doing some research on whether second hand vapour is as dangerous (or even dangerous at all) as second hand smoke that would be great.  I'm writing this comment to encourage you in that direction.  i know all that stuff is dependent on funding, office politics availability of grants and whatever else, and if you're PhD student who knows what the future holds employment wise etc.
None the less its the obvious next step as vaporiser use is only going to increase.
Vaporisers (and ecigs or so i thought) are sposed to be good because they eliminate particulate matter in the vapour, or at least decrease it significantly.  Many people use vapourisers on the basis that no particulate matter enters their system - only vapour which is a gas as I understand it.  With pot the idea is to evaporate the terpines off the surface of the plant matter.  There is actually criticism by vape users that traditional ecigs and many vapes themselves don't prevent combustion and allow some smoke to be breathed in with the vapour.
So the questions I have are along the lines of "is there any particulate matter in second hand vapour?" and more top the point is the damage as bad (or even there) as second hand pot smoke.  Your study from 2014 seems to imply that its the smoke not the chemicals that cause the problem with second hand pot smoke  If this is true then does second hand vapour (if its free of particulates) have the same effect?
IE is the particulates that cause the problem wrt heart function and O2 transport.  In which case people might assume vapour is a safer (not necessarily "safe" btw) option (I do for example).
Anyway if you get the opportunity you (or your colleagues) should do a study to find out if it is.  (If you can obviously.)
Thanks for your time.


No one has yet studied these issues for marijuana vaporizers as far as I know, but the way that they work is to produce an aerosol of ultrafine particles to carry the THC into users' lungs.  These particles are tiny droplets, as they are with e-cigarettes.  The particles themselves are dangerous.  Because there is no combustion, however, there will be fewer toxic chemicals than you get when burining the marijuana.
This situatiuon is similar to e-cigarettes, which produce an aerosol by heating the e-liquid.  Because they do not burn the tobacco the e-cigarette aerosol is less dangerous than cigarette smoke.  Also, because e-cigarettes do not smolder between puffs, there is less secondhand aerosol put into the air for bystanders to breathe.
But, at least for e-cigarettes, they still do pollute the air and bystanders absorb nicotine and other pollutants.  Surprisingly, the nicotine levels in nonsmoking bystanders around people using e-cigarettes is similar to that measured when they are breathing secondhand cigarette smoke.
In addition, the cardiovascular effects have very nonlinear dose-responses, with big effects at low doses, so even the low levels of expsoure that e-cigarettes deleiver to <em;users</em; affect blood vessel function as much as smoking a cigarette.&nbsp; The particles play an important role in these effects.

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