1. Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.

E-cigs contain a million times more cancer-causing chemicals than polluted air

By Docta, Mar 2, 2016 | | |
  1. Docta
    The Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health is calling for a full ban on e-cigarettes after a study they commissioned discovered that e-cigarettes contain a million more cancer-causing substances than polluted air. The research, carried out by the Baptist University, also found a type of flame retardant in the devices that affected the reproductive system and could also lead to cancer.

    Thirteen random electronic cigarettes available on the Chinese market were analyzed and returned worrying results: the level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a by-product of burning petroleum also found in polluted roadside air, ranged from 2.9 to 504.5 nanograms per milliliter.

    That’s “at least one million times more than roadside air in Hong Kong,” according to Dr Chung Shan-shan, assistant professor in the Baptist University’s biology department.

    Another substance of concern found in abundance is Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). These are flame retardants that are widely used in the manufacturing of furniture and electronic products.

    With an average 5 nanograms per milliliter in a conventional cigarette, the number of PBDEs in e-cigarettes range from 1.7 to 1,490 nanograms per milliliter.

    PBDEs are added to e-cigarettes to reduce the risk of burning in the devices' plastic combustible components. According to Dr Chung Shan-shan, inhalation of PBDEs has been associated with thyroid hormone disruption and reduction of fertility; it affects fetal development and can cause cancers.

    “Even though we don’t know the exact number of e-cigarettes one should take, not to mention that many of the carcinogenic effects are cumulative, I don’t think there is a safe margin,” Chung said.

    At least 16 countries have imposed a total ban on e-cigarettes, including Singapore, Thailand and Brazil, while the World Health Organization (WHO) admits that there is insufficient information so far on health implications caused by e-cigarettes.

    “Some research programmes are already under way but given that e-cigarettes have been popular in the last four or five years, research has barely started and it’s early days yet. It would take about five or 10 years before we have evidence that could change the current picture.” Armando Peruga, Programme Manager of WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative, said in a 2014 interview.

    Published time: 1 Mar, 2016 © Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “TV-Novosti”, 2005–2016. All rights reserved

    Image credit: © Mark Blinch / Reuters



  1. Gradient
    It's worth keeping in mind that current research into the dangers of e-cigs is not altogether free of undue influence. It's certainly true that the flavorant market is severely under-regulated, and ought to have a regulatory body characterizing the behaviors of these molecules at temperatures reached in e-cigs.

    However, we often see levels of known carcinogens in e-cigs quantified - but not compared to actual cigarettes themselves. One might argue that the important consideration for cigarette smokers who are considering e-cigs as a healthier alternative is whether the relative levels of carcinogens present in both are lower in e-cigs than actual cigarettes...

    As well, I have heard speculation that tobacco lobbies may be incentivizing some of this legislation under the guise of protecting consumers from harmful chemicals, but I've no idea how accurate that may be.
  2. hookedonhelping
    I wouldn't doubt that some people using these high tech mods, are increasing their risk of harm due to the sheer volume of flavored vapor inhaled and excessive heat used to atomize that mixture.

    Back in 2005 I had my primary care physician write me a prescription for a smokeless nicotine delivery device. The pharmacy provided me a "Nicotrol" branded starter. I used it while attending long lectures where a smoke break was not available. It did the job and I am considering going back to it in lieu of all the research coming out. Not to mention, I find myself waking up after 4-5 hours of sleep, just to vape for a few seconds before drifting back to sleep. I think it may be time to revert to what I know is a safe nicotine delivery system in an effort to quit.

    For those that don't know, this is the Nicotrol delivery system.

  3. Docta
    Always a bit risky speaking out against e-cigs on DF, any blaspheming in relation the this sacred object see oneself branded a heretic.

    That seems the default almost pro-forma (lesser of two evils) response to any statements critical of e-cigs and without doubt in theory it is a valid statement but in practice it’s just not as beneficial when viewed through the eyes of public health. This article more about public health than personal health. Where I come from e-cigs are banned and people smoking cigarettes are a very small minority and of them almost all are very mindful of not exposing nonsmokers to their habit. This is not the case with e-cig users in any of the country's I have visited.

    Hong Kong is a great example, ten or so hour’s flight time, land at the airport, get through immigration and hop on the sky-train. The doors close and you find yourself trapped in a fume cupboard full of people puffing away on there now hot and ready to go e-cigs. Totally oblivious to the pyrolysis products they are exhaling into this enclosed environment, a flood of clear, odorless, tasteless carcinogens . Now the cigarette smokers in Asia are nowhere near as thoughtful when it comes to the plight of nonsmokers as they are in Australia but they don’t light up on the train or in other enclosed areas.

    This is the view from the other side of the fence.
  4. Gradient
    Believe me: I've no love for e-cigs. I dedicate a non-trivial amount of my professional time to understanding the risks - both intuitive and unintuitive - they present. Same story with nicotine.

    This distinction to which you refer is problematic, and some people in public health circles are arguing that they ought to be collapsed (I like Arah's article in Medicine, Healthcare and Philosophy '08). They are really only distinguished by who's working on what, not evaluating the physiological risks of a given substance. This kind of argument almost certainly serves as the basis for a society thinking cannabis is actually pretty okay to consume, but probably best outlawed because - while it was safe for 'me' - it might turn others into sex-crazed lunatic-addicts.

    We need a pragmatic discussion of the risks and benefits of vaporizing nicotine with flavorants relative to other ways nicotine is consumed. From purely a physiological perspective.

    This strikes me as a non sequitur. Do you remember how long it took for cig smokers to get over the fact that they couldn't smoke wherever they wanted in restaurants? How about bars? It took years for this to be considered the norm in the US (and I'm sure quite a few smokers still loathe the legislation). These points about etiquette have nothing to do with physiology, the only foundation upon which legislation should be based.

    I think we're quite on the same side of the fence here, actually. I don't think anyone ought to consume nicotine, though of course the decision is entirely their prerogative. The costs dramatically outweigh the meager benefits. But if we're going to criticize e-cigs for delivering carcinogens, then the same standard must be applied to cigarettes.
  5. Docta
    I agree but there seems to much focus on the nicotine dependent subject and there level of benefit I would like to see the same weight given to the passive recipient of the exhaled toxins. When you put a sample section of the public in a room statistically only one in ten will be nicotine dependent but all must breath the atmosphere. What about the other nine, why are they put in the background of e-cig discussions, I was under the impression public health put the majority first.

    One of the points I'm trying to get across is the same standards are not being applied, the cult of e-cig seem to have some how hoodwinked the observer into cigarette tunnel vision. E-cigs being used as a vehicle to erode the gains made with what is now excepted smoking etiquette in restaurants, bars and other enclosed public areas. I was at the boxing in Bangkok last year and couldn't see the ring for the clouds from e-cigs being exhaled, I think its become a case of carcinogens out of sight, out of smell, out of mind.

    A good example of how cult of e-cig can make even the most rational of observers into a propagandist.
  6. Gradient
    Docta, I can't imagine how you could possibly come to this accusation based on what you know of me, but I think it's going to be impossible to disabuse you of this notion. So I'm done trying. But, to address some of the other points you're trying to make:

    You must not be familiar with the literature, because this is inaccurate. See Balbe, Martinez-Sanchez in Environmental Research, 2014. They quantified and compared airborne markers of the byproducts from cigarettes to e-cigs. For a review, see Oh, Kacker in Laryngoscope, 2014. I'm sure there are and will be more similar efforts, particularly as the effects of more flavorants are explored.

    I agree that this is a concern, but it's inaccurate to suggest that scientists - whose careers depend upon the discovery of new and potentially important information - are being 'hoodwinked' into neglecting any potential harm derived from second-hand exposure. I can tell you that US federal organizations are currently funding further research to elucidate any potential harm derived from e-cigs, in addition to what's already been published.

    Perhaps this is the case in Southeast Asia and Brazil, but almost certainly not elsewhere. Your own post strikes me as a refutation of this idea. Where you're from, 'they're banned', as you posted above. Many (most?) states in the US are regulating where they can and can't be used - and they essentially reflect tobacco regulations. Hong Kong has just banned them, as noted in the news article, despite the evidently tremendous rate of public cigarette consumption as you've noted above.

    Perhaps other countries have not yet initiated this process - but this strikes me as suggesting that the governments simply have yet to catch up with the product, and not that they're being masterfully manipulated by a cult of e-cig.

    As someone who's not simply an 'observer' to this domain of research, I'm offering a perspective based on my expertise. I can assure you that I've zero interest in promoting the use of e-cigs, don't use them myself, and have no relationships with any invested parties. I just posted about how I think their use is ill advised.

    What you've brought to the discussion is that a cult of e-cig is hoodwinking society, that I'm somehow a naively inadvertent propagandist on their behalf, and that it bugs you that people vaporize in public/enclosed places. We can agree on the last point, but I can't see any evidence in support of the preceding two. An outright ban simply strikes me as impulsive, given the balance of peer-reviewed evidence I've seen.
  7. Docta
    My apologies for the use of the term propagandist, in hindsight it dose seem a little heavy handed. I just found your use of unsubstantiated rumor to be odd nobody knows what camp started the rumor. I expect I was being a little over sensitive at the time I had been reeding a lot of statements online slinging mud at big tobacco in favor of e-cigs.

    The hoodwink can be found by talking to e-cig users in the street the vast majority fervently believe they are not harming anyone by puffing away in enclosed spaces. I don't support a ban at all because there is an area of benefit to the community for this technology but there needs to be better education about how this activity affects others. E-cig users are apparently incapable of using Google scholar when researching the use of these products. The theory is one thing the practice on the ground in South East Asia is totally different e-cigs have become a status symbol for the upper middle class, if there is a ban anywhere in Asia nobody is enforcing it.
  8. chibi curmudgeon
    E-cigs contain millions of chemicals?

    Ohhhh, I get it now. :laugh: I used to respect RT. I want to believe the headline was just badly translated.
To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!