May 5, 2014 — Two studies reviewed by the New York Times have found formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, may be produced by certain types of e-cigarettes that are designed to produce large amounts of vapor.
The studies focused on “dripping,” which is a type of e-cigarette that is designed with a tank system. Unlike traditional e-cigarettes, which heat nicotine from a disposable cartridge, users drip e-liquid directly onto a high-powered heating element. This produces a large amount of vapor. Advocates of dripping say it is a good alternative to e-cigarettes because users only need to inhale the vapor a few times.
Unfortunately, the high-powered heating element may transform some chemicals in e-liquid into carcinogens. According to Dr. Alan Shihadeh, lead researcher on one of the studies, formaldehyde and related toxins “approach the concentration in cigarettes.”
The other study found similar results. Researchers warned:
“This finding suggests that in certain conditions, E.C.s might expose their users to the same or even higher levels of carcinogenic formaldehyde as tobacco smoke.”
These studies do not link e-cigarettes and any health problems. However, they are concerning because some manufacturers claim that e-cigarettes are safer, healthier, and have “no toxins associated with tobacco smoking.”
The chief scientist for NJOY told the Times that their product contains significantly less formaldehyde than traditional cigarettes, which produce dozens of carcinogens during the combustion process. Even so, e-cigarette smokers should be aware that high heat can change the chemical composition of e-liquids. The long-term health effects are unknown.
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