Vapor (aerosol) produced at high voltages by e-cigarettes can contain high concentrations of formaldehyde, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Jan. 21.
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen with links to lung cancer. Researchers found that e-cigarettes produce ‘masked’ formaldehyde when operating at their highest voltage levels.
‘Masked’ formaldehyde in e-cigarettes is associated with higher concentrations of formaldehyde than in regular cigarettes. These higher concentrations could potentially increase the likelihood of formaldehyde deposits in the lungs.
E-cigarettes use battery power to heat a chemical liquid (known as e-juice), which produces the vapor. Many healthcare professionals are worried that there is very little known about e-cigarettes and the lasting impacts of long-term ‘vaping’.
“There are a lot of unknowns about e-cigarettes, and it is a new area of research,” said John Chenery, Provincial Communications Manager for the Ontario Lung Association.
“If users are aware of the new study and they see the potential harm in using e-cigarettes, then they may think again about how they use them. They should pay attention to the research coming out.”
Members of the e-cigarette community are rejecting the new research, citing the unrealistically high voltage conditions of the study.
“There are many variables that come into play, because you could be using an e-cigarette with a smaller voltage,” said Kellen Payne, a vaper in St. Catherines, Ontario.
“Personally, I research into every vape product I buy, including the voltage and juices. Certain units will go to higher voltages and certain juices will include various chemicals, so all vapers should do their research ahead of purchase.”
There are a number of public health experts who believe e-cigarettes can play a role in aiding long-term tobacco smokers with quitting. Some former tobacco smokers also recognize that their switch to e-cigarettes led to a healthier lifestyle.
“I quit smoking regular cigarettes in April 2014 and switched to e-cigarettes,” said Payne. “I haven’t smoked tobacco since then, and I feel so much better. I no longer wake up in the morning with a coughing fit.”
Associations like the Ontario Lung Association are content with e-cigarette users continuing to vape, provided that they abide by Ontario legislation.
“We support the Ontario legislature’s restriction of the sale and use of e-cigarettes in the same way that we use and sell tobacco,” explained Chenery. “Until there is some sort of definitive research into the harms and effects of e-cigarettes, we will consider the legislative approach as cautionary and a wise course to continue with.”
In Ontario, e-cigarettes cannot be sold to minors and their use is prohibited where smoking is prohibited.
Photo credit: Google images
Video credit: The Province and CNN