Electronic cigarettes have been a primary topic of conversation since they first appeared in 2006. There is a lot of debate with this product and how to go about regulating it. So far, three major cities have decided to treat electronic cigarettes the same way they currently treat tobacco cigarettes. New York, Chicago and Los Angeles have already passed laws banning the use of electronic cigarettes in public areas as well as anywhere else tobacco cigarettes are banned. The reason these laws have come into effect is because, although electronic cigarettes are proven to be healthier and safer than tobacco cigarettes, their vapour still contains some harmful ingredients.
Michael Feuer, LA’s city attorney, brought this information to the foreground. His report presented the findings of toxins such as nickel, lead, chromium and nicotine not only in the electronic cigarette itself, but also in the vapour that is expelled. This led him to promote the law that bans the use of electronic cigarettes in public places in LA. However, the levels of these toxins have yet to be proven a concern to the health of the public.
It seems as if everyone is over reacting to the chemicals found in electronic cigarettes. Dr. Igor Burstyn conducted several studies to determine the type of toxins in e-cigarettes, the amount of toxins in e-cigarettes and the effects that they have on people. His results; the toxins found in e – cigarettes cause no harm to the human body. These “harmful” toxins are also found in everyday air! We are already breathing in these chemicals on a daily basis but people don’t seem to recognising that fact.
New data also shows that the toxins found in e – cigarette vapour are also a produced and expelled through the human body itself. These “dangerous toxins” may be no more dangerous than our own breath. Take a look at the data below to determine the results for yourself.
(In simpler terms)
Iron (Fe), Potassium (K), Magnesium (Mg), Aluminium (Al) and Sulfur (S) have been found in electronic cigarette vapour. These five toxins are also found in natural outdoor air. Are we really in danger if we are inhaling them daily anyway?
Five of the VOC’s in the above chart (Acetaldehyde, Formaldehyde, Acetone, Butanone and Isoprene) are found in the vapour expelled from electronic cigarettes. These five VOC’s are also found in human breath. Our bodies are already creating these chemicals and they are not harming us so are we in harms way if we inhale a bit more of what our bodies already produce?
Five other VOC’s found in electronic cigarette vapour are found in natural air as well our own breath: Acetaldehyde, Toluene, Formaldehyde, Benzene and Xylene. Again, it is already in the air that we breathe and coming out of our own body, where is the harm?
Are we really in any danger? Is electronic cigarette vapour really doing us any harm?
E-Cigarettes Compared With Human Breath
Many of the developed cities like Los Angeles face a lot of air pollution in the outdoor environments. A big percentage of these pollutants are as a result of emissions from factories, road traffic and other similar sources. With the dozens of organisations working to reduce this pollution, almost everybody is aware about this pollution and systems are in place to try and reduce it. What many people don’t know is that even indoor air can suffer pollution. The interesting bit about pollution of the indoor environment is the fact that even the human body contributes in the pollution. Naturally, our bodies release some Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) hence the air we breathe out is not a hundred per cent clean. Nonetheless, this is no reason to worry. Let’s compare the vapour from e-cigarettes with human breath.
According to a study that was done in 1999 to measure emissions from human breath, there is a wide array of VOCs in human breath. Some of these VOCs have a potential to cause cancer while others don’t. Five of these VOCs have also been detected in e-cig vapour. The five are acetone, formaldehyde, isoprene, acetaldehyde and butanone. Nonetheless, only formaldehyde was detected to be at a significant level when compared to its exposure limit.
The study analysed human breath using a Flame Ionisation Detector or Teflon bags hence it is not possible to put the results head to head with results from passive vaping tests. Nonetheless, let’s not forget that a good number of the VOCs in electronic cigarette vapour come from human breath, considering that the vapour is exhaled together with some natural human breath. Let’s take a look at the chart below that compares vapour from e-cigs and human breath.
According to the chart, human breath and mainstream e-cig vapour have approximately equal levels of formaldehyde. It also shows that there is a likelihood of human breath being the main component in the formaldehyde that has been detected by passive vaping studies.
Formaldehyde has been detected at almost equal levels in both mainstream e-cigarette vapour and human breath. The chart above suggests that human breath is probably a main component of the formaldehyde detected by studies on passive vaping. Acetone on the other hand was interestingly quite high on samples from human breath when placed head to head with samples from e-cig vapour from a smoking machine.
While it’s true that we don’t take in 100% pure air, we can’t use this as a basis to conclude that the air is not safe for breathing. Going by the results of this research, we can see that a good number of the compounds found in e-cigarette vapour are present in the air we breathe. Nonetheless, this is no reason to worry. The idea is that banning e-cigarette use based on the argument that the vapour has harmful chemicals is just like arguing that flavours should be banned solely because minors like them. In addition, this air that is being protected already contains a good number of the elements that are allegedly “polluting” it. If e-cigs must be banned, then the concerned authorities need to find a better reason for banning them.