Flavored e-cigarettes are really popular, especially among the younger e-cigarette smokers, but these flavors, such as cotton candy, might actually be dangerous to your health. A new study, which was published in BMJ’s Tobacco Control, shows that these flavorings had potentially dangerous levels of chemicals. This means that there might be more dangers to vaping than previously thought, especially if you are using some of those more unique flavors and not regular tobacco flavoring.
Researchers were looking at 30 different e-cigarette liquids, which is what is heated into vapor through the e-cigarette, and these liquids were all from various companies. The researchers even used some of the major and more well-known companies, like Blu and Njoy. There were a variety of flavored liquids that were used in the study, including cotton candy, bubble gum, tobacco, menthol, and various fruit flavors. When the researchers tested these liquids, they found that the chemicals included in the liquids were actually higher than what would be considered safe, a couple were even so high that they would be considered possibly harmful when inhaled.
The study is coming out of Portland State University, and author of the study, Jim Pankow, said that a lot of these companies are saying they are using the food grade flavorings, which is one way to pass off these liquids as safe for consumption. However, the studies that a lot of the manufacturers are using to get people to believe their products are safe are testing ingestion, but not testing for the effects of inhaling the substances and various components of the liquids. Njoy and Blu have never said that the liquids they are using are safe, however a lot of other manufacturers out there are making this claim.
When it comes to e-cigarettes though, the issue really is that there isn’t much out there in terms of data as far as what is considered safe for inhalation or ingestion. Pankow did find two very specific chemicals in the liquids that might be causes for concern, which were vanillin and benzaldehyde. These two chemicals do have regulations as far as what is safe for inhalation due to people in various fields working with these chemicals in large quantities. The researchers calculated that these e-cigarettes might end up giving out double the amount of what is considered safe for these two specific chemicals. Both of these chemicals are considered irritants, since both of them do mess with the respiratory tract, and this could hinder breathing or make breathing more difficult.
There is also an issue of there being a difference between what is in the liquid itself and what is being turned into the vapor that comes from the e-cigarette, so this means that the chemicals in the liquid might not be coming out through the vapor. The vapor in the e-cigarettes are what is considered the most important part of the equation, and that is something that is still not really known and has not really been checked out. The two specific chemicals researchers worried about also have no real data on what is considered safe and when that line gets crossed into being harmful for the body. It’s also not known if there is a limit where those chemicals turn toxic, whether or not that is transmitted through the vapor in the e-cigarettes or not.
Pankow believes that even if there is a difference between what is in the liquid itself and what is being emitted through the vapor, it wouldn’t be that much of a difference. There will still be at least some release of those chemicals, as well as other potentially harmful chemicals, when the e-cigarette turns the liquid into vapor. You might not be exposed to the degree that you are just from the liquid itself, but Pankow says the chemicals are still going to get through, and this is a cause for concern. The FDA still has not put any type of regulations or labeling requirements on e-cigarettes due to it being a very long process to go through public comments, find studies that show the positive and negatives, and get through the legal red tape. This study however, does confirm that e-cigarettes, especially flavored ones, are still fairly new and understudied, and that labeling them as questionable might be the best option.