Study: E-cigs may contain more formaldehyde than actual cigarettes


This is a big story I saw on NBC News, and

real startling news that’s leading me to change my attitude about e-cigs. I’m sure it had the e-cig companies scrambling afterward.

According to a study from the New England Journal of Medicine, the level of formaldehyde in e-cigarettes may be as much as 15 times higher than an actual tobacco cigarette, especially if you use e-cigs at a “high voltage” setting. (I didn’t realize you could change the voltage settings of an e-cig.)

From the NBC News article:

“It’s way too early now from an epidemiological point of view to say how bad they are,” said co-author James F. Pankow, professor of chemistry and engineering at Portland State University in Oregon. “But the bottom line is, there are toxins and some are more than in regular cigarettes. And if you are vaping, you probably shouldn’t be using it at a high-voltage setting.”

Pankow and his colleagues analyzed aerosolized e-liquid in “tank system” e-cigarettes to detect formaldehyde-releasing agents in “hidden” form at various voltages.

They found that vaping 3 milligrams of e-cigarette liquid at a high voltage can generate 14 milligrams of loosely affiliated or “hidden” formaldehyde. Researchers estimated a tobacco smoker would get .15 milligrams of formaldehyde per cigarette or 3 milligrams in a 20-pack.

Pankow told NBC News those numbers “may be conservative.”

“We are not saying e-cigarettes are more hazardous than cigarettes,” he said. “We are only looking at one chemical. … The jury is really out on how safe these drugs are.”

“A lot of people make the assumption that e-cigarettes are safe and they are perfectly fine after using for a year,” said Pankow. “The hazards of e-cigarettes, if there are any, will be seen 10 to 15 years from now when they start to appear in chronic users.”

I think the message here is a lot is still unknown about e-cigs and the chemical compounds they release when liquid is heated into steam. They’re not completely benign and harmless, especially for kids finding a different delivery system to get hooked to nicotine.

Formaldehyde is just one of many carcinogenic compounds found in cigarettes. Others include benzene, arsenic, vinyl chloride, Polunium-210, acetone, toluene and a bunch more.