Critics of e-cigs are always looking for ways of convincing the public that vaping can harm human health and recently there have been a few cities which have banned vaping in public places. Some reports have suggested that e-cigarettes should not be permitted in public as various substances including nicotine, lead, chromium and nickel have been found in the vapour produced.
Although it is true that vapour does contain some small amounts of contaminants, there is no evidence that these are at a level that could pose a risk to the health of the public. Indeed a study carried out by Dr Igor Burstyn even showed that in over 9000 cases of e-cig vapour, no harm or risk was posed to bystanders. The alleged toxins which have been identified in vapour have also been found occurring naturally in human breath and in the outdoor air.
Indeed, if you live in a big city, you are already being exposed to pollution when you breathe the outdoor air thanks to the emissions from factories and traffic fumes. The evidence all seems to point to the fact that breathing in the vapour produced by electronic cigarettes is no more harmful than simply breathing in the outdoor air.
E-Cigarettes Compared With Outdoor Air
In 2012, a South Coast AQMD study revealed that there was a comparable level of trace elements (or metals) in the outdoor air of Los Angeles to those contained in e-cig vapour. Five of the elements which were detected in e-cigarette vapour were also discovered in the air in three sites across Los Angeles, but there is no cause for alarm since the levels are very low and are nowhere near exposure limits.
A different study into the air quality in Los Angeles saw scientists measuring the air in 3 elementary schools and this too revealed the same amount of the five trace elements in the air. As nobody was vaping anywhere in the vicinity of these tests, they should be taken as proof that the contaminants are not being produced by e-cig vapour but instead from human breath and existing air pollution.
E-Cigarette Compared With Human Breath
A study was carried out at several Los Angeles universities focusing on the contaminants which exist in human breath. Scientists measured the carcinogenic compounds which are naturally found in human breath and discovered five identifiable toxins – formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acetone, ispprene and butanone.
These happen to be some of the same contaminants which are said to make the vapour produced by e-cigs to be deadly to the public and therefore this study suggests that these allegedly dangerous compounds may actually be produced as a result of natural human breath rather than emissions from e-cigs themselves. It is, however, important to note that, with the exception of formaldehyde, none of these substances were found to be of a significant level to warrant a risk.
The air that we all breathe in is never entirely pure or free from contaminants, however this does not mean that we should worry about breathing in. These studies reveal that many of the components found in e-cigarette vapour are also found in outdoor and indoor air that is vapour-free, and therefore there is no need for the public to be alarmed.
This research, however, also suggests that the argument posed by experts for banning the public use of e-cigarettes on the basis of vapour containing harmful chemicals may not be very relevant, since public air already contains several of those very same elements which are in e-cig vapour.