E-cigarettes, despite being unbelievably popular with smokers and non-smokers alike, are not without controversy. Even though there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that e-cigs are far less dangerous to our health than traditional tobacco based products stuffed full of harmful additives, there are still some people in the scientific community who continue to preach that e-cigs are dangerous.
Numerous people in the scientific community, including Dr Ron Chapman from the California Public Health Department, have gone on record claiming that e-cigarettes emit toxic chemicals harmful to human cells and that vaping is a ‘community health threat’. But whilst the media and politicians love to jump on these stories, there is plenty of evidence to debunk the myth that e-cigs and vaping are toxic.
The research paper published January of this year by the highly respected New England Journal of Medicine is a good example of how scientific data can be manipulated to persuade the general public black is in fact white. The paper was titled “Hidden Formaldehyde in E-Cigarette Aerosols”. It claimed that e-cigs contain twice the levels of formaldehyde as traditional cigarettes, and as you might expect, caused a media furore.
Where Does Formaldehyde in E-Cigs Come From?
The liquid in e-cigarettes contains propylene glycol and/or glycerol, plus flavourings and nicotine. propylene glycol can degrade during the vaporisation process to form formaldehyde, which in turn reacts with propylene glycol and glycerol to produce hemiacetals – harmful chemicals used as biocides. Formaldehyde is also a known carcinogen. So on the face of it, the results of the New England Journal of Medicine research paper were rather worrisome. But don’t panic, because all is not quite as it first appears.
A second study conducted by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos, an eminent cardiologist and world-renowned expert on e-cigarettes and vaping, debunked the conclusions from the New England Journal of Medicine research paper. He reproduced the experiment and concluded that e-cigarettes are at the very least 95% safer than traditional nicotine cigarettes!
Minimal Levels of Formaldehydes Detected in Second Study
The esteemed Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos was able to show that the original experiment was fatally flawed in one important way. The researchers from the New England Journal of Medicine massively overheated the atomisers, which created a ‘dry hit’.
A dry hit – also known as a ‘dry puff’ – occurs when the atomiser is heated to the point there the e-liquid disappears and the wick is bone dry. There is no juice left to vape, which creates a very unpleasant burnt taste in the mouth. It is something that an inexperienced vaper might do once, but certainly not twice.
Unfortunately, the researchers from the original study measured the levels of formaldehyde in these ‘dry hits’ and found, rather unsurprisingly, that the results indicated there was twice as much formaldehyde present. Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos’s study paper was peer reviewed and published in an international scientific journal called ‘Addiction’.
A Flawed Study
Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos was not the only one to spot the numerous holes in the original research study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. When it was first released, Dr Gilbert Ross from the American Council on Science and Health was quick to comment that the study was deeply flawed. He expressed concern that the public would mistakenly think that e-cigs were more toxic than regular cigarettes, which as we know is a long way from the truth.
Scientific Study Proves Vaping is Safe
Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos’s study paper is not the first one published by the scientific community that clearly shows e-cigarettes are far safer than tobacco-based cigarettes. A previous study published in the December 2014 issue of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology concluded that the vapour emitted from e-cigarettes is perfectly safe and no more harmful than breathing a lungful of normal air (unless you are standing in the middle of a busy intersection in downtown Tokyo).
The December study looked at the levels of ‘harmful and potentially harmful constituents (HPHC), including carbon monoxide and heavy metals, and concluded that traditional tobacco cigarettes contained around 1500 times more harmful and potentially harmful constituents than e-cigs. The only caveat is that the researchers measured the toxicity levels in vapour emitted by e-cigarettes rather than the effect that vaping has on the human respiratory system, but given that we are probably more exposed to carbon monoxide and heavy metals during a stroll down a busy city centre high street, there probably isn’t a lot to be concerned about.
Make Up Your Own Mind
Ultimately you have to make up your own mind about whether e-cigs and vaping are harmful to your health (or not), but with so much scientific evidence proving that inhaling vapour from an e-cig is no more harmful than inhaling a lungful of normal air, would you really prefer to suck up carcinogenic smoke from a tobacco cigarette instead?