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E-Cigarette Smoke Contains Harmful Toxins
- Updated: September 1, 2014
Top researchers with the University of South Carolina (USC) discovered levels of nickel and chromium in e-cigarette smoke, toxins not found in traditional cigarette products. Most experts agree that electronic cigarettes are in fact a healthier choice over regular cigarettes, primarily because they contain far fewer chemicals. Even so, they still emit dangerous toxins according to data gathered from this study, which was published in the Journal of Environmental Science, Processes and Impacts.
Ever since e-cigarettes were introduced, scientists have been studying related secondhand smoke and what they found was an overall decrease in exposure to harmful particles but even better, nearly no exposure to organic carcinogens. However, harmful metals were significantly higher when compared to standard cigarettes.
According to the author of the study but also a professor of Viterbi School of Engineering at USC, Constantinos Sioutas, the study demonstrates that electric cigarettes may appear to be a less harmful choice for smokers but there is definite concern considering the higher levels of nickel and chromium.
Additional Toxic Metals Identified
In addition to nickel and chromium, several other toxic metals were identified in e-cigarette secondhand smoke to include zinc and lead although comparatively, these levels were much lower. The main goal of the study was to quantify a more precise level of exposure to metals and harmful organics associated with secondhand smoke coming from e-cigarettes in an effort to offer regulatory authorities better insight into potential risks.
Sioutas, along with colleagues from the National Institute of Cancer Research located in Italy, believe metal particles actually come from the cartridge itself. Because of this there is an opportunity to improve standards for manufacturing processes. This was further emphasized by Dr. Arian Saffari, a USC Viterbi student and study author who stated that these studies play a key role in getting effective regulatory measures implemented.
Using a More Natural Environment
One challenge is that compared to traditional cigarettes, e-cigs are relatively new and as such, the amount of research that has been done is simply not enough. To broaden the study, experiments were conducted in rooms and offices, opposed to laboratory settings. Within these environments, participants smoked both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes. Next, in-door air particles were collected by researchers and chemical content analyzed.
To gather accurate information, researchers from USC felt it was important to recreate real life smoking scenarios. Using the rooms and offices and after testing secondhand smoke from a popular brand of traditional cigarettes against Europe’s best-selling e-cig, Elips Serie C, a higher levels of metal toxins was confirmed.