E-cigarettes have been touted as the healthy alternative to regular cigarettes; however, a new study has determined that e-cigarettes contain an increased level of toxic metals than cigarettes and release these metals into air.
The researchers in this study analyzed second-hand smoke from e-cigarettes and discovered an overall 10-fold exposure to harmful particles. Levels of exposure to second-hand smoke were significantly higher. The metals detected included nickel, chromium, lead and zink.
“Our results demonstrate that overall electronic cigarettes seem to be less harmful than regular cigarettes, but their elevated content of toxic metals such as nickel and chromium do raise concerns,” said Constantinos Sioutas, professor at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, and corresponding author of the study, which was published online on August 22 by the Journal of Environmental Science, Processes and Impacts.
“The metal particles likely come from the cartridge of the e-cigarette devices themselves — which opens up the possibility that better manufacturing standards for the devices could reduce the quantity of metals in the smoke,” said Arian Saffari, a PhD student at USC Viterbi and lead author of the paper. “Studies of this kind are necessary for implementing effective regulatory measures. E-cigarettes are so new, there just isn’t much research available on them yet.”
All of the studies were conducted in offices and rooms with volunteer subjects smoking regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes.
“Offices and rooms- not laboratories — are the environments where you’re likely to be exposed to second-hand e-cigarette smoke, so we did our testing there to better simulate real-life exposure conditions,” Saffari said.
Arian Saffari, Nancy Daher, Ario Alberto Ruprecht, Cinzia De Marco, Paolo Pozzi, Roberto Boffi, samera H. Hamad, Martin Shafer, James Jay Schauer, Dane Westerdahl, Constantinos Sioutas. Particulate Metals and Organic Compounds from Electronic and Tobacco-containing Cigarettes: Comparison of Emission Rates and Secondhand Exposure. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, 2014; DOI: 10.1039/C4EM00415A
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