Vape aromas can create nasty new chemicals in your e-liquid
We hear a lot about how the ingredients in vape juice could be bad for us: nicotine is addictive, for example, and the aromas can be bad for the lungs. But new research indicates there are chemicals in e-liquids that we don’t even have know to worry about, because they form in the bottle or pod of e-liquid after all the ingredients are mixed.
Scientists have found that aromas of cinnamon, vanilla and cherry react with propylene glycol, a main ingredient in many vape juices, to create entirely new chemicals, study finds published today in the journal Nicotine and tobacco research. These same chemicals are found in the vapor that people inhale, according to the new study. The first surveys carried out by Sven-Eric Jordt, professor of anesthesiology, pharmacology and cancer biology at Duke University, suggests that these altered aromas could irritate the lungs in the long run. And people don’t even know they’re inhaling them.
There is more than 7,000 flavors of e-liquids available, and they’re pretty controversial. Right now, regulators and lawmakers are considering how to regulate them, and there is an ongoing debate as to whether flavored e-liquids appeal to children or help adults quit smoking (or both. ). But there are also health impacts to consider: while the FDA says many of these flavors are safe for consumption, we don’t really know if they are safe for people to eat. breathing, according to the massif National vaping academies report which came out earlier this year. Some research, for example, suggests that cinnamon aromas can damage lung cells, The New York Times reports.
And now it turns out it’s not all about the flavor ingredients themselves you have to worry: there are also the chemicals that aromas can produce when they continue to react in the vape juice. That’s why this study is important, says Robert strongin, an organic chemist at Portland State University who was not involved in the research. It examines the risks inherent in the soup of chemicals in electronic cigarettes. “There are things that are vaped and inhaled that people don’t really know. ”
Vape juices are typically made by mixing nicotine and flavors with a solvent – often propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, or a mixture of both. This solvent, Strongin says, is “like the elephant in the room. It is the main chemical in e-liquid, ”he says. But it’s not clear enough how these solvents might mix and react with other ingredients in a small bottle of cherry flavored vape juice, for example.
Scientists analyzing commercial vape juices have detected new chemicals in the blends that are not listed on the ingredient label (when there is one). And based on the chemical structures of the compounds, it seemed like they formed when the aromas reacted with the propylene glycol – but no one knew what exactly was going on, or if these compounds were being extracted from the vape juice and in the lungs. vapers.
Thus, to observe the chemistry in action, Jordt’s team made its own e-liquid from formulations found in the literature and by analyzing the vape juices purchased on AmericanEliquidStore.com. They blended propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and a handful of different flavors, including cherry, cinnamon, and vanilla. And they saw the concentration of these new compounds increase. When they analyzed the vapor produced by their e-liquids, they found that around 50-80% of the new chemicals were also present in the vapor.
The real question, however, is what these new chemicals do to the human body. And today’s study is taking the first steps to answer that: the team tested the compounds on cells with irritant receptors known to be triggered by things like cigarette smoke and hot peppers. And they found that these altered aromas triggered them more effectively and at lower concentrations than the aromas themselves.
It’s weird because there is not an epidemic of people suffering from burns of the respiratory tract. “Obviously, if this was very irritating, people would stop using e-cigarettes,” Jordt said. Instead, he’s worried about what chronic, low-level stimulation of these irritation receptors might do to people’s lungs. “If they are activated more continuously, they can lead to inflammation, a chronic cough, they also promote asthma. This is why we are worried, ”he said. The study shows that these e-liquids are not stable, he says: this is why more research needs to be done on what happens when these ingredients are mixed and left in an e-bottle or pod. liquid for months.
And it is essential that vapers know that the manufacturers of ingredients to say are in their vape juice doesn’t necessarily reflect what people inhale. “Once you’ve got them all mixed up, what’s in the liquid isn’t what you originally put in it,” says Jordt. “We believe the public and the medical community should be aware of this. ”
Strongin also says these risks need to be investigated further. “We would like these to be completely harmless,” he says. And he doesn’t want to discourage anyone from quitting smoking. But, he says, to say that vaping is perfectly safe is also not true. “If you’re really interested in harm reduction, which I think we’re all interested in, you don’t want harm replacement. ”