More and more young people are using e-cigarettes, which are marketed as a safer option than traditional smoking. This can be however, grossly misleading as vaping aerosols contain nearly 2,000 chemicals, the vast majority of which are unidentified, including industrial chemicals and caffeine.
According to a recent John Hopkins University research, even though cigarette contaminants are much lower in e-cigarettes, and it is marketed as a safer option to cigarettes as they operate at temperatures below combustion, there is no clear evidence to suggest that vaping is more healthy than smoking cigarettes. It underlined that people who vape are using a product whose risks are yet to be fully determined and could be exposing themselves to chemicals with adverse health effects.
The study identified six potentially harmful substances, including three chemicals never previously found in e-cigarettes. This includes stimulant caffeine in two of the four products. It further noted that Caffeine has previously been detected in e-cigarettes but only in caffeine-oriented flavours like coffee and chocolate. This may be due to manufacturers adding it intentionally, without disclosing, to give smokers an extra kick. Besides caffeine, researchers found three industrial chemicals, a pesticide, and two flavourings linked with possible toxic effects and respiratory irritation.
The research found thousands of unknown chemicals in the vaping liquid, and the number of compounds increased significantly in the aerosol. Furthermore, condensed hydrocarbon-like compounds, typically associated with combustion were also detected which manufacturers claimed is not happening during vaping. In traditional cigarettes, the condensed hydrocarbons generated during combustion are toxic.
John Hopkins University’s research on e-cigarettes is different from earlier studies that have looked specifically for evidence of the hazardous chemicals found in traditional cigarettes. The new research involves a non-targeted analysis to explore the full range of chemicals both in the vaping liquid and the aerosols.
The research involved testing vape samples with chromatography/high-resolution mass spectrometry, a chemical fingerprinting technique more commonly used to identify organic compounds in wastewater, food, and blood. It tasted like tobacco-flavoured liquids sold by Mi-Salt, Vuse, Juul, and Blu for consistency even though vaping products are available in hundreds of flavours.