Category Archives: Formaldehyde

New study: No, e-cigs aren’t harmless, they give off high levels of formaldehyde


In the most recent case of dueling studies on e-cigarettes, the latest — from the Center for Environmental Health — strongly suggests that e-cigs give off a high dose of carcinogenic formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. A dose so high, it violates California law.

This isn’t the first study to raise alarms about the level of formaldehyde in e-cig steam. Another study about a year ago said that when e-cigs are turned up to their highest heat level, e-cigs actually give off more formaldehyde than cigarettes. (This study was roundly downplayed by the industry and e-cig advocates, who pointed that people rarely if ever charge their e-cigs at that high of a temperature.).

Formaldehyde is one of the most infamous nasty carcinogenic chemicals and substances known to be given off by tobacco cigarettes.

According to this article from the International Business Times:

An independent laboratory analysis looked at 97 e-cigarette products from two dozen manufacturers and found most emit higher levels of these cancer-causing gases than allowed under California’s Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.

Anyway, this latest CEH study completely contradicts a study done recently in the UK suggesting that e-cigs are safe and recommending that they be treated as an effective tool for helping people quit smoking cigarettes. It was a study loved by the industry and by e-cig advocates.


The Oakland, Calif.-based CEH obviously strongly disagrees. The group is planning litigation in California courts citing the state’s consumer protection act to crack down on e-cigs. The CEH cites the exceptionally blatant marketing of e-cig products to teenagers in its response to the study.

From a Guardian article:

“For decades, the tobacco industry mounted a campaign of lies about cigarettes, and now these same companies claim that their e-cigarettes are harmless,” said Michael Green, executive director of CEH.

“Anyone who thinks that vaping is harmless needs to know that our testing unequivocally shows that it’s not safe to vape.

“This is especially troubling given the reckless marketing practices of the e-cigarette industry, which targets teens and young people, and deceives the public with unfounded health and safety claims. Our legal action aims to force the industry to comply with the law and create pressure to end their most abusive practices.”

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.