May 5, 2014 — E-cigarettes that are engineered to produce large amounts of vapor may also produce formaldehyde at high temperatures, according to two studies obtained by the New York Times to be published this month in Nicotine and Tobacco Research.
One of the studies investigated the process of “dripping,” which allows users to drip tiny amounts of nicotine liquid onto a heating element, instead of drawing the liquid from a container. According to lead researcher Dr. Alan Shihadeh, e-cigarettes with “tank systems” may heat e-liquid with such intensity that formaldehyde and related toxins “approach the concentration in cigarettes.”
The other study concluded with this warning:
“This finding suggests that in certain conditions, E.C.s might expose their users to the same or even higher levels of carcinogenic formaldehyde as tobacco smoke.”
The results of the study do not affect older types of e-cigarettes that come with pre-filled cartridges and less intense heating elements. However, the chief scientist for NJOY told the Times that their e-cigarettes had significantly lower levels of formaldehyde than traditional cigarettes.
The problem is that some manufacturers are marketing e-cigarettes to a new generation with claims that they are safer and have “no toxins associated with tobacco smoking.” E-cigarettes do not generate enough heat to create combustion, which is why many people believe they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Even so, intense heat can change the chemical composition of e-liquids, which may contain nicotine, vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, and other ingredients.
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