Heating flavored e-cigarette liquids produced vapors containing toxic chemicals, a
new study found.
Flavors like bubble gum, cotton candy and cupcake have made e-cigarettes attractive
to adolescents along with a perception that they are safe. In 2015, 16% of high school
students and 5.3% of middle school students used e-cigarettes, according to the National
Youth Tobacco Survey.
Researchers studied concentrations of 12 aldehydes like formaldehyde in e-cigarette
vapors using three popular brands of e-cigarettes, each of which had a different type
of heating mechanism.
Aerosols from the flavored liquids contained large amounts of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde
and acrolein, while the liquids themselves did not.
“This clearly demonstrates that these aldehydes are formed not by evaporation but
by chemical breakdown of e-liquid components,” authors wrote.
They also determined that the flavored vapors produced significantly more aldehydes
than unflavored vapors.
“Production of aldehydes was found to be exponentially dependent on concentration
of flavoring compounds,” they wrote.
The amounts of formaldehyde significantly surpassed the exposure limits for workers
recommended by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.
“In other words,” authors wrote, “one puff of any of the tested flavored e-cigarette
liquids exposes the smoker to unacceptably dangerous levels of these aldehydes, most
of which originates from thermal decomposition of flavoring compounds.”