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The "electronic (e-)cigarette" generates intense scientific debate about its use. Its popularity is increasing worldwide as a method to reduce/quit smoking, and to smoke indoors when restrictions on smoking tobacco are present. WHO recommends caution, until its effectiveness in helping smokers is clarified, and the possible harm evaluated. The aim of this study was to assess the content of the aromatic liquid mixture and its vapour and the Particulate Matter (PM) emissions of an Italian brand of e-cigarette and to compare its PM emissions with a conventional cigarette. Propylene glycol (66%) and glycerine (24%) were main components in the liquid, while the flavouring substances were less than 0.1%. The same substances were detected in the vapour in similar proportions. Fine and ultrafine PM emissions were higher for the conventional versus the e-cigarette (e.g.: PM10=922 vs 52 microg/m3; PM1=80 vs 14 microg/m3). The e-cigarette seems to give some advantages when used instead of the conventional cigarette, but studies are still scanty: it could help smokers to cope with some of the rituals associated with smoking gestures and to reduce or eliminate tobacco consumption avoiding passive smoking. However, the e-cigarette causes exposure to different chemicals compared with conventional cigarettes and thus there is a need for risk evaluation for both e-cigarettes and passive steam exposure in smokers and non smokers.
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Qualitative evaluation of exposure to an Italian electronic cigarette
* Department of Chemistry, University of Perugia, Italy
** Center for Smoking Cessation, ASL Monza e Brianza, Italy
*** Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
**** Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
Ann Ig 2012; 24: 279-288
Electronic cigarettes: an evaluation of exposure to che-
micals and fine particulate matter (PM)
R.M. Pellegrino*, B. Tinghino**, G. Mangiaracina***, A. Marani****,
M. Vitali****, C. Protano****, J.F. Osborn****, M.S. Cattaruzza****
Key words: Electronic cigarette emissions, flavouring mixture, fine particulate matter, PM
Parole chiave: Emissioni sigaretta elettronica, miscela aromatizzante, particolato fine, PM
La sigaretta elettronica: una valutazione dei componenti chimici e del particolato sottile (PM)
L’uso della sigaretta elettronica sta generando un importante dibattito scientifico. La sua popolarità sta
crescendo in tutto il mondo come metodo per ridurre o smettere di fumare e per fumare nei luoghi chiusi
dove è vietato. L’OMS tuttavia raccomanda cautela fino a quando non sia stata chiarita la sua reale efficacia
come aiuto ai fumatori e non sia stato valutato l’eventuale possibile danno associato al suo utilizzo.
L’obiettivo di questo studio è stato quello di analizzare, per una marca italiana di sigaretta elettronica, il
contenuto liquido della miscela aromatica, il suo vapore e le emissioni di Particolato Sottile (PM) confron-
tandole con quelle di una sigaretta convenzionale.
Il propilene glicole (66%) e la glicerina (24%) sono risultati i principali componenti del liquido, mentre
le sostanze aromatiche ammontavano a meno dello 0,1%. Le medesime sostanze, all’incirca nelle stesse
proporzioni, sono state ritrovate nel vapore emesso.
Le emissioni fini ed ultrafini di PM sono risultate notevolmente più alte per la sigaretta convenzionale
rispetto a quella elettronica (rispettivamente PM10: 922 e 52 µg/m3; PM1: 80 e 14 µg/m3).
La sigaretta elettronica sembra dare alcuni vantaggi quando è usata al posto della sigaretta convenzionale,
anche se gli studi sono ancora scarsi: potrebbe aiutare i fumatori a gestire la ritualità e a ridurre o a smettere
di fumare, evitando l’esposizione al fumo passivo. Tuttavia determina anche l’esposizione a sostanze chimiche
diverse rispetto alla sigaretta convenzionale e quindi si rende necessaria un’accurata valutazione dei rischi
potenzialmente connessi con il suo uso e con l’esposizione di fumatori e non fumatori al suo vapore.
Introduction and obiectives
Recently, an electric device called
an “electronic cigarette”, “e-cigarette”
or “e-cig” has become more commonly
used by smokers to replace conventional
The e-cigarette is an integrated electric
device, shaped like a cigarette, consist-
ing of a stainless steel shell, a lithium
ion battery assembly, a smart chip with
program controlled circuits, an atomiza-
tion chamber and a removable cartridge.
Flavouring is housed in the removable
280 R.M. Pellegrino et al.
cartridge, which contains propylene
glycol and other products obtained from
an extraction of tobacco flavours. Some
e-cigarettes even contain nicotine in the
removable cartridge together with flavour.
Some companies add other flavours to
the mixture such as: mint, strawberry,
orange etc (18). These products may be
very attractive to minors who may be
drawn to the technology, flavouring and
accessibility (41).
The popularity of the e-cigarette
among smokers has increased worldwide,
as a method to reduce or quit smoking,
to smoke in an indoor environment when
smoking restrictions are present, or to
“feign a smoking experience” reducing
health risks (10, 19). Besides, now-a-days
the e-cigarette is an “online leader” in
popularity among smoking alternatives,
such as snus (a moisturized tobacco pow-
der used as an alternative to chewing to-
bacco), nicotine replacement therapy, and
other medications (4). Even in the South
Korean market, the e-cigarette, described
as the “healthy cigarette”, was advertised
as an incredible and effective and healthy
smoking cessation device (25).
On the other hand, in September 2008
the World Health Organization (WHO)
decided that e-cigarettes cannot be con-
sidered as a way to stop smoking, because
there were not enough studies demostrat-
ing its effectiveness in reducing and
replacing the consumption of nicotine.
Besides, WHO recommended caution
in its use, until its effectiveness in help-
ing smokers is clarified and the possible
harm of some substances is evaluated (34,
42). After the WHO recommendations,
the topic “e-cigarette” has generated
significant scientific debate about the
promises and perils of the device (17 30,
39). Nevertheless, even now there is little
research on e-cigarette safety, while some
data on plasma nicotine, carbon monoxide
concentration, heart rate and subjective
effects have been evaluated (38). In the
first reports, e-cigarettes seem to allevi-
ate craving and to be well tolerated, at
least in short-term clinical observations
(6, 11, 27, 32), but evaluation of the tox-
icity of the different electronic devices,
the long-term safety, and the smoking
cessation efficacy is needed (14, 15). In
particular, the first priority of studies in
this field should be the characterization
of the safety profile (14, 15).
The US Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) analyzed results of a two widely
commercialized electronic cigarette prod-
ucts, suggesting that these devices may
include some of the same toxic or carci-
nogenic compounds as the conventional
cigarette. Moreover, some e-cigarettes
contain ethylene glycol, a toxic chemical
(18, 23).
The aim of the present study was to
contribute to the knowledge on toxicity of
e-cigarettes during a smoking simulation
of an Italian brand by:
- a quali-quantitative determination
of the aromatic mixture and the vapour
- the evaluation of particulate matter
emission according to their size (Total
Suspended Particulate - TSP, and particles
with size 10, 7, 2.5 and 1 µm - PM10, 7,
2.5, 1 fractions, respectively).
Materials and methods
Analytical determinations were per-
formed on two types of an Italian brand
(e-cigarette Aria™ - Auripen, Italy) of
e-cigarettes: one with nicotine (Nic) and
one without nicotine (W Nic). The study
was performed in three phases.
1. In the first phase, the aromatic liq-
uid of the e-cigarette was analysed. The
cartridge had a cylindrical shape (diam-
eter 9 mm; length 40 mm) and contained
Qualitative evaluation of exposure to an Italian electronic cigarette
about 0.5 grams of liquid. Analyses were
performed using Agilent 5975-6890
(GC/MS) by injecting undiluted liquid
in split mode (500:1). Chromatographic
column was a JW 5-MS (0.2 µm thick-
ness, 0.25 mm ID, 30 m Length) used
in programmed mode (45°C for 3 min,
next increment of 10°C/min to 320°C
for 2 min) with Helium as carrier gas at
constant flow of 1.1 mL/min. Qualitative
data were obtained by comparison of 70
eV electronic impact mass spectra of each
compound with database library (Wiley
and NIST). Quantitative data expressed
by weight/weight (% w/w) were obtained
by internal normalization method: the
area of the total ion current (TIC) signal
of each chromatographic peak was mul-
tiplied by the respective response factor,
that was previously determined for each
compound by analysing various synthetic
mixtures gravimetrically prepared.
2. In the second phase, the chemical
composition of the vapour was analysed.
The e-cigarette was applied to a device
that simulated 16 aspirations, each lasting
for 3 seconds with a flow rate of 0.166 L/
sec and with intervals between one aspira-
tion and the other of 8 seconds. Exhaled
steam produced by the e-cigarette was
collected into an Supelco ORBO™ 100
HBR on Carbotrap™ B. The analytes
were eluted from the adsorbent with 5
mL of carbon disulphide and collected
in a 10 mL glass tube. The solution was
dried to 100 µL with a gentle stream of
nitrogen gas, placing the bottom of the
tube in a water/ice bath. Finally, 1 µL of
the obtained solution was injected into
GC/MS apparatus under the same condi-
tions described in phase 1.
3. In the third phase, the indoor emis-
sion of particulate matter by the e-ciga-
rette (Nic) was measured and compared
with that of a traditional cigarette brand
(nicotine = 0.8 mg/cigarette; tar = 10 mg/
cigarette), using a device that produced
4 aspirations per minute, for 3 minutes
overall. Measurements were performed
with a portable laser operated aerosol
mass analyser (Aerocet 531, Metone
Instruments Inc, USA) in an air volume
of 11 m3.
The measurements were taken before
lighting the cigarette (T0), 1.5 minutes
after lighting (T1 = half smoking simula-
tion time) and after 3 minutes (T2 = end
of smoking simulation).
There was a wash-out period of 30
minutes with air exchange between the
measurements for the e-cigarette and
the conventional cigarette. This allowed
the air to return to basal indoor values,
as measured by the mass analyser. The
ambient temperature and humidity were
19.5°C and 60% respectively.
The results of GC/MS analyses of
the aromatic mixtures (Nic and W Nic)
are shown in Table 1. The content of
the aromatic mixtures of Nic and W Nic
e-cigarettes are very similar: propylene
glycol was the main component found in
liquid of both e-cigarettes (66.001 and
66.115 %w/w for Nic e-cigarettes and
for W Nic e-cigarettes, respectively).
Propylene glycol together with glycerine
represented more of 90% of the total in-
gredients, while the other substances were
less than 0.1% of the total. L-nicotine was
present only in the device with nicotine
(0.250 %w/w).
The substances in the e-cigarettes’
steam found by GC/MS analysis are
reported in Table 2. A total of 11 and 10
chemicals were found at detectable levels,
respectively in the analyzed steam of Nic
and W Nic e-cigarettes (L-nicotine was
282 R.M. Pellegrino et al.
Table 1 - Composition of the e-cigarette’s aromatic mixture and their percentages expressed as %weight/weight
Substance CASaNic
(% w/w)b
W Nic
1,2-propanediol (propylene glycol) 57-55-6 66.001 66.115
1,2,3-propanetriol (glycerin) 56-81-5 24.056 24.200
L-nicotine 54-11-5 0.250 < 0.001
Flavouring agents:
methyl pyrazine 109-08-0 0.028 0.024
2,3-dimethyl pyrazine 5910-89-4 0.012 0.012
5-methyl-2-furaldehyde 620-02-0 0.011 0.010
1-hydroxy-2-propanone 116-09-6 0.011 0.008
β-damascon 23726-91-2 0.010 0.010
2,5-dimethyl pyrazine 123-32-0 0.010 0.010
3-hydroxy-2-methyl-4-pyranone (maltol) 118-71-8 0.004 0.002
2,3,5,6-tetramethyl pyrazine 1124-11-4 0.001 0.002
TOTAL - 90.394d90.393d
a CAS: Chemical Abstracts Service (Registry number of each product)
b Nic: e-cigarette with nicotine
c W Nic: e-cigarette without nicotine
d Remaining % w/w of aromatic mixtures (9.606% and 9.607%) is presumably due to the water content.
Table 2 - Composition of the steam from e-cigarettes expressed as mg/m3
Name CASaNicb
W Nicc
1,2-propanediol (propylene glicol) 57-55-6 1660 1650
1, 2, 3-propanetriol (glycerin) 56-81-5 610 580
L-nicotine 54-11-5 6.21 < 0.01
methyl pyrazine 109-08-0 0.54 0.54
2,3-dimethyl pyrazine 5910-89-4 0.29 0.30
5-methyl-2-furaldehyde 620-02-0 0.27 0.27
1-hydroxy-2-propanone 116-09-6 0.26 0.26
β-damascon 23726-91-2 0.25 0.25
2,5-dimethyl pyrazine 123-32-0 0.24 0.24
3-hydroxy-2-methyl-4-pyranone (maltol) 118-71-8 0.06 0.06
2,3,5,6-tetramethyl pyrazine 1124-11-4 0.03 0.02
a CAS: Chemical Abstracts Service (Registry number of each product)
b Nic: e-cigarette with nicotine
c W Nic: e-cigarette without nicotine
Qualitative evaluation of exposure to an Italian electronic cigarette
found only in Nic e-cigarettes). Even in
this case, the major component of the
steam of both e-cigarettes is propylene
glycol (1660 mg/m3 for Nic and 1650 mg/
m3 for W Nic e-cigarettes, respectively),
followed by glycerine (610 and 580 mg/
m3 for Nic and W Nic e-cigarettes, respec-
tively). The other analytes recovered in
the steam, detected in trace levels, were
the same as compared to those found in
the aromatic mixture.
The maximum temperature of the
steam vapour exiting the device was
Fine and ultrafine PM emissions meas-
ured for the electronic and conventional
cigarettes are reported in Table 3.
PM emissions measured after smoking
simulation with the electronic and the
conventional cigarettes were higher than
those detected before the experiment in
both cases. However, comparison of PM
levels produced by the electronic and con-
ventional cigarettes shows a much greater
increase (up to hundreds of times) of each
PM fraction for conventional cigarette.
At the end of the experiments (after
3 minutes from the lighting of the con-
ventional cigarette and e-cigarettes),
PM emissions produced by conventional
cigarette in the indoor air were several
times higher than PM emissions produced
by e-cigarette. Overall, total suspended
particulate matter emissions derived from
a conventional cigarette were 15 times
higher than those derived from an e-cig-
arette. For each of the different fractions
of PM, (PM1, 2.5, 7, 10), there was an higher
density (ranging from 6 to 21 times) for
conventional compared to e-cigarette.
Much research is being done on strat-
egies that may help smokers to quit,
either using drugs or control strategies
to manage craving and behaviour (3, 5,
7, 20, 40). The use of e-cigarettes should
be seen in this way, that is, as a tool to
reduce the damage caused by real tobacco
smoke. However, well-conducted clinical
trials showing the effectiveness of these
devices for treating tobacco addiction
are lacking.
The first priority is to characterize
the safety profile of these products, in-
cluding in long-term users. If these pro-
ducts are demonstrated to be safe, their
efficacy as smoking cessation aids should
then be tested in appropriately designed
trials. Until these studies are conducted,
continued marketing constitutes an un-
controlled experiment and the primary
outcome measure, poorly assessed, is user
health.” (14).
Table 3 - Particulate matter emissions (PM) according to their size (Total Suspended Particulate matter - TSP, and
particle with size lower than 10, 7, 2.5 and 1 µm - PM10, 7, 2.5, 1) at basal time (T0), after 1.5 min (T1) and after 3 min
(T2) of use of the e-cigarette and conventional cigarette
e-cigarette Conventional cigarette Density ratio
T0 T1 T2 T0 T1 T2 T2
PM1 µg/m31 0 14 0 42 80 6
PM2.5 µg/m32 3 43 3 281 901 21
PM7 µg/m34 8 50 5 291 919 18
PM10 µg/m36 10 52 7 293 922 18
TSP µg/m313 17 63 16 305 933 15
284 R.M. Pellegrino et al.
Some data are available about the
ingredients of different e-cigarettes (8),
but it must be considered that there are
different types of commercially available
formulations of e-cigarettes; thus, toxi-
cological aspects related to these devices
may differ widely.
The e-cigarettes analysed in this study
are produced by a single Italian manu-
The major constituent of both the
aromatic mixture (liquid) and vapour was
propylene glycol, as shown in previous
studies on different e-cigarettes (2, 9, 12,
13, 35, 37). Propylene glycol is a clear,
colourless, odourless and tasteless liquid
at room temperature; it may exist in air in
vapour form, and it is widely used as an
antifreeze and de-icing solution for cars,
airplanes and boats, as a solvent in the
paint and plastics industries, as a chemical
to generate artificial smoke for theatrical
productions, as an additive for several
drugs, cosmetics or food products, as a
solvent for food colours and flavours (1).
In the e-cigarette, it is used to simu-
late the appearance of standard cigarette
smoke (23).
The FDA classified propylene glycol
as “generally recognized as safe”, that is
acceptable for use in flavorings, drugs,
food, and cosmetics.
The toxicological profile of propylene
glycol, traced by the Agency for Toxic
Substances & Disease Registry (1), states
that inhalation of its vapours presents
no significant hazard in ordinary appli-
cations, but limited human experience
indicate that its mists may be irritating
for some individuals.
Propylene glycol is not classified
as hazardous under the EC Regulation
1272/2008 (16) (which replaces Directive
67/548/EEC for substances and Direc-
tive 1999/45/EC for preparations) on the
Classification, Labelling and Packaging
of substances and mixtures (CLP).
In the liquid some “dangerous”
substances (according to EC Regula-
tion 1272/2008) were also present:
methyl pyrazine, 2,3-dimethylpyrazine,
β-damascon, 1-hydroxy-2-propanone,
2,5-dimethyl pyrazine, 2,3,5,6-tetram-
ethyl pyrazine, 3-hydroxy-2-methyl-4-
pyranone, 5-methyl-2-furaldehyde, but
their concentrations were less than 0.1%,
the maximum limit allowed by law. This
statement, however, does not guarantee
the safety of e-cigarettes for smokers, but
it is related to just the production proc-
ess, the manipulation and holding of the
aromatic mixture.
The same substances recovered in
liquid were also present in the steam.
Their safety for users’ health strictly
depends on dosage (number of smoked
cartridges) and duration of active and/or
passive exposure, as well as on several
other variables related to the user (age,
gender, etc). Thus, it is difficult to trace
a universal risk profile since the danger
is related to personal habits. Moreover,
the difficulty in outlining the personal
risk profile is not only in evaluating the
quantities of airborne chemicals to which
one is exposed, but also the actual amount
that enters into the body. For this purpose,
it will be useful to study, in depth, users’
behaviour and to perform quantitative
risk assessment.
In the present study, both electronic
and conventional cigarettes caused an
increase of PM levels in indoor air. To
our knowledge, this is the first empirical
research on PM emissions of e-cigarettes;
thus it is not possible to compare our
data with other results. At the end of the
experiment with a conventional cigarette
PM emission was hundreds of times
higher than before smoking, in the same
order of magnitude as the results from
previous studies (21, 26, 31).
In both cases, the levels of PM10 and
PM2.5 exceeded the WHO air quality
Qualitative evaluation of exposure to an Italian electronic cigarette
guideline values (50 and 25 µg/m3 for
PM10 and PM2.5 respectively) (43). Nev-
ertheless, the guideline values refer to a
daily mean exposure, while PM concen-
trations of electronic and conventional
cigarettes were measured only during
and immediately after the experiment.
Notice that the increase of PM slightly
exceeds the WHO values in the case of
e-cigarettes, but is particularly conspicu-
ous in the case of a conventional cigarette.
Thus, data presented in this study should
not be considered a model of exposure
to PM emission for electronic or con-
ventional cigarettes, but they could be
the rational starting point for studies to
evaluate actual scenarios to compare daily
PM emission derived from the smoking
of electronic and conventional cigarettes.
Besides, since PM is a mixture of sub-
stances, it would be interesting to assess
not only the quantity of particles but also
their chemical composition (e.g. metals
or organic compounds).
However, it is important to highlight
that e-cigarettes may be less harmful
than tobacco given the lack of tar, carbon
monoxide, combustion products and all
the other chemicals (more than 4000 sub-
stances, some of them proven toxic and
carcinogenic) released from a “tobacco”
cigarette (23), and the lower production
of PM.
An important “human health” question
related to cigarette smoking is passive
smoking, better defined as environmental
tobacco smoke (ETS), that is the mix-
ture of the chemicals released from the
smouldering tobacco product. It is well
known that ETS is a threat to the health of
the non-smokers (36). In particular, ETS
exposure in the first years of life may re-
sult in irreversible damages in adult age:
together with the expected effects, such
as leukaemia, other kinds of cancer and
chronic respiratory diseases (28), recent
research evidenced long-term cardiovas-
cular effects in children exposed to ETS
(22, 33).
ETS results in a combination of sec-
ond- and third-hand smoke, where sec-
ondhand smoke is the mixture of chemi-
cals derived from the smoke exhaled by
a smoker together with the smoke from a
burning cigarette, while thirdhand smoke
is the combination of tobacco smoke pol-
lutants that adhere to the clothing and
hair of smokers and to surfaces, furnish-
ings, and dust in indoor environments,
persisting long after the clearing of sec-
ondhand smoke. Thus, secondhand smoke
exposure consists of an unintentional
inhalation of smoke that occurs close to
people smoking during the period of ac-
tive smoking. Thirdhand smoke exposure
consists of unintentional intake of smoke
that occurs in the absence of concurrent
smoking - even long after smoking has
ceased - through close contact with smok-
ers and in indoor environments in which
tobacco is regularly smoked (29).
In our opinion, this question should be
evaluated for e-cigarette too.
Overall, the e-cigarette seems to give
some advantages when used instead of
the conventional cigarette:
the users’ exposure to chemicals is
limited to few compounds included in the
aromatic mixture, while the combustion
of tobacco and paper of a conventional
cigarette produces more than 4000 sub-
PM emissions are significantly lower
for the e-cigarette for all the investigated
dimensional fractions;
given the above, the e-cigarette should
be less dangerous for second- and third-
hand smoke.
Due to the lack of specific research,
the e-cigarette should only be considered
286 R.M. Pellegrino et al.
a promising option to tobacco cigarettes.
First, toxicological studies should be con-
ducted on the whole chemical mixture, in
order to asses possible risks and, conse-
quently, to substitute the dangerous com-
ponents. Furthermore, there is a strong
need for studies on both users’ risks and
effectiveness in smoking cessation.
The “electronic (e-)cigarette” generates intense
scientific debate about its use. Its popularity is increas-
ing worldwide as a method to reduce/quit smoking,
and to smoke indoors when restrictions on smoking
tobacco are present. WHO recommends caution, until
its effectiveness in helping smokers is clarified, and
the possible harm evaluated. The aim of this study was
to assess the content of the aromatic liquid mixture and
its vapour and the Particulate Matter (PM) emissions
of an Italian brand of e-cigarette and to compare its
PM emissions with a conventional cigarette.
Propylene glycol (66%) and glycerine (24%) were
main components in the liquid, while the flavouring
substances were less than 0.1%. The same substances
were detected in the vapour in similar proportions.
Fine and ultrafine PM emissions were higher for the
conventional versus the e-cigarette (e.g.: PM10=922
vs 52 µg/m3; PM1=80 vs 14 µg/m3).
The e-cigarette seems to give some advantages
when used instead of the conventional cigarette, but
studies are still scanty: it could help smokers to cope
with some of the rituals associated with smoking ges-
tures and to reduce or eliminate tobacco consumption
avoiding passive smoking. However, the e-cigarette
causes exposure to different chemicals compared with
conventional cigarettes and thus there is a need for
risk evaluation for both e-cigarettes and passive steam
exposure in smokers and non smokers.
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University of Rome, P.le Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy
... Therefore, other sampling aids have been tested to remediate this discrepancy. These include cartridges coated with derivatization agents [18], silica gel traps [19], polymer sorbent tubes [20][21][22][23], SPME fibers in a static gaseous sample [24], solvent-filled impingers [25][26][27] or a combination of these [28,29]. As with regular smoking machines, the necessary suction is produced by a simple vacuum pump or a large-volume syringe pump. ...
... The collected samples on sorbent tubes are then either directly analyzed using thermal desorption units (TD) [22,23] or comparable to the coated cartridges eluted with solvent and then analyzed [18,20,21]. Especially the suitability of the coated cartridges is being discussed, as the smallest substances tend to be very reactive [30]. ...
... Unfortunately, the trapped substances can be unstable, leading to underestimations when using this method [31]. Specialized sorbent tubes also have high analyte capacities and are used with an intense puffing regime as well [7,21]. ...
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The analysis of the aerosol from tobaccoless electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) is an important part of understanding their impact on human health, yet sampling aerosol from e-cigarettes is still considered a challenge. It lacks a standard method for research and quality control and there are a variety of methods. However, few are simple and inexpensive, and none have been suggested for the use with gas chromatography coupled ion mobility spectrometry (GCxIMS). This work presents and evaluates such a setup made from standard lab equipment to quickly collect a quantitative sample from the aerosol of a single puff (5 s totaling 125 mL). The aerosol condensates directly in the cooled headspace (HS) vial, which is analyzed in the HS-GCxIMS or mass spectrometer (HS-GC-MS). The combined use of GC-MS and GCxIMS allows the simple and sensitive identification of unknown substances in complex mixtures and the identification of degradation products in the aerosols. A calibration of 26 flavor compounds (0.2–20 µg/g) was created using single puffs of a spiked, flavorless commercial refill solution and 2-alkanones as internal standards. This sensitive but easily reproducible setup enables a wide range of further investigations, even for labs that were previously unable to afford it.
... Multiple studies have so far investigated the effect of the e-liquid content in terms of PG:VG ratios, nicotine concentration, and flavorants on particle size distribution (Ingebrethsen, Cole, & Alderman, 2012;Long, 2014;Pellegrino et al., 2012;Schripp, Markewitz, Uhde, & Salthammer, 2013;Zhang et al., 2013). However, to our knowledge, no systematic approaches were used to investigate all controlling factors influencing the particle size synergistically, and the existing results obtained with different methods are inconsistent (Breland et al., 2017). ...
... Further analysis to investigate the effect of PG:VG ratios of 70:30, 50:50, and 30:70 with free base nicotine in all three eliquids (e-liquids 103, Table 1) showed no differences in their Dv 50 and Dv 90 values. However, the differences in Dv 10 values were due to the differences between the e-liquid 3, with the lowest PG content (30%) versus the other two e-liquids, 1 and 2. There were no significant differences between the Dv 10 values when comparing the e-liquid 1 versus 2. Multiple studies reported the effect of PG:VG ratios on aerosol size distribution (Ingebrethsen et al., 2012;Long, 2014;Pellegrino et al., 2012;Schripp et al., 2013;Zhang et al., 2013), showing higher VG ratios yield larger particles versus PG (Zhang et al., 2013). Due to the significantly different boiling points of VG (290 • C), versus PG (188 • C), composition of solvent in terms of PG:VG ratios can affect the particle size generation (Cho & Shin, 2015). ...
Currently it is not fully understood how the device settings and electronic liquid (e-liquid) composition, including their form of nicotine content, impact mouth and throat losses, and potentially lead to the variations in total nicotine delivery to the human lungs. An in situ size assessment method was developed for real-time measurements at the mouthpiece and outlet of a biorelevant mouth-throat to account for the dynamic nature of the aerosol. The aerosol size, temperature, and delivery through the mouth-throat replica and the exhaled aerosol between the puff intervals were measured at different wattages using various e-liquid compositions. The effects of body temperature and humidity on aerosol size and nicotine delivery were also explored to evaluate the importance of considering realistic in vivo conditions in in vitro measurements. Notably, in vitro tests with body temperature and humidity in mouth-throat model vs room conditions, resulted in larger aerosol size at the end of the throat (Dv50=5.83±0.33 μm vs 3.05±0.15 μm), significantly higher thoracic nicotine delivery (>90% vs 50-85%) potentially due to the lower exhaled amount (<10% vs 15-50%). Besides, higher VG/PG ratios resulted in significantly lower exhaled amount and higher mouth-throat nicotine deposition. One of the main outcomes of the study was finding significantly lower exhaled amount and higher thoracic nicotine delivery with nicotine salt form vs free-base. Considering body temperature and humidity also showed significant enhancement in nicotine delivery, so it is essential to account for biorelevant experimental conditions in benchtop testing.
... It was suggested that e-cigarette users were exposed to equal or higher levels of formaldehyde compared to tobacco smokers [9]. Moreover, e-cigarette particle concentrations and size range were found to be lower or comparable to conventional cigarettes [17,29]. Levels of metals were found to be equal or higher in e-cigarettes compared to conven-tional cigarettes [30,31]. ...
... While there are no prospective studies assessing the direct reproductive effects of e-cigarette use on ART outcomes, studies have suggested that the use of e-cigarettes can provide levels of nicotine and other metabolites that are similar to those produced by traditional cigarettes [9,17,[29][30][31][32][33]92]. Therefore, it would be wise to assume that e-cigarettes would have similar negative effects on ART outcomes than those observed in traditional cigarette consumers, until further demonstrated otherwise. ...
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Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are often considered a “safe substitute” for conventional cigarette cessation. The composition of the fluid is not always clearly defined and shows a large variation within brands and manufacturers. More than 80 compounds were detected in liquids and aerosols. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, and the addition of flavorings increases the toxicity of e-cigarette vapour in a significant manner. The heat generated by the e-cigarette leads to the oxidation and decomposition of its components, eventually forming harmful constituents in the inhaled vapour. The effects of these toxicants on male and female reproduction are well established in conventional cigarette smokers. Although toxins were measured at much lower levels in e-cigarette aerosols compared to smoke from a conventional cigarette, there are concerns about their potential impact on male and female reproduction. The information available was mainly obtained from studies conducted in animal models, and investigations in humans are scarce. However, the effects observed in animal models suggest that caution should be taken when vaping and that more research needs to be conducted to identify its potential adverse effects on fertility. The prevalence of e-cigarette usage is alarming, and warnings should be made about the impact of vaping on reproductive health. This document reviews the data regarding the impact of e-cigarette use on male and female reproduction.
... TC smoke has been found to contain high concentrations of free radicals and could generate cellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), resulting in oxidative stress and promoting inflammation (Burke and FitzGerald, 2003;Csiszar et al., 2009). While a new type of smoking, electronic cigarette (EC), is claimed to be safer than TC by advocators and getting more popular in recent years (Pellegrino et al., 2012;Rom et al., 2015;Weaver et al., 2016). However, studies have demonstrated that EC aerosols could induce ROS, DNA damage, and cell death in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) (Anderson et al., 2016). ...
Full-text available
Electronic cigarettes (ECs), considered a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes (TCs), vaporize e-liquid, which may produce harmful by-products due to thermal decomposition and metal transfer. These by-products' deposition in the respiratory tract is largely determined by particle size distribution (PSD). We employ the Multiple-Path Particle Dosimetry (MPPD) model to assess particle deposition within the human and mouse respiratory tracts. Leveraging the known connection between TC smoke inhalation and atherosclerosis, we used human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs) and ApoE-/- mice to explore the potential effects of EC aerosol inhalation on atherosclerosis. Our findings reveal that TCs exhibit a highly variable PSD, with mean diameters of approximately 300 nm for mainstream (MS) smoke and 120 nm for side stream (SS) smoke. Conversely, ECs demonstrate a more stable PSD. Combined with MPPD, the deposition fraction in the human respiratory system and mice is mainly deposited in the pulmonary region and head airway. For the Apoe-/- mice exposure experiment, preliminary findings suggest a potential impact on atherosclerosis, although not statistically significant, likely due to the limited sample size and exposure duration. This study highlights the importance of considering PSD, exposure dosage, and species-specific differences in risk assessments of EC aerosols.
... The total particle mass concentration of e-cigarette emissions can be lower or higher than combustible cigarettes. For example, Pellegrino et al. reported PM1 = 14 µg/m 3 for ecigarette emissions vs. 80 µg/m 3 for combustible cigarette emissions and PM10 = 52 µg/m 3 for e-cigarette emissions vs. 922 µg/m 3 for combustible cigarette emissions [15]. By contrast, Ingebrethsen et al. reported the max mass concentration of 3R4F reached up to 0.04 mg/cm 3 , which is lower than that of the tested e-cigarette of 0.05-0.10 ...
Full-text available
The E-cigarette has been promoted as an alternative nicotine delivery device with potentially fewer toxicant emissions. The objective of this review is to summarize the current knowledge on the particle size distribution (PSD) of e-cigarette emissions and to analyze the knowledge gaps between existing particle size measurements and the vision toward harm reduction from e-cigarette use. Here, we focus on firstly describing the physical parameters used to characterize PSD, followed by comparing particle size measurement approaches, investigating the factors that impact the PSD of e-cigarette mainstream aerosols, and conclude by linking size distribution to the respiratory dosimetry by demonstrating the modeling results of particle deposition in the respiratory tract. This review calls for a harmonized testing protocol to conduct inter-comparisons and further understand e-cigarette particle sizes. Among the influencing factors investigated, puff topography, operation power, flavorings, PG/VG ratio, and nicotine strength impose a substantial impact on the PSD, but the underlying mechanisms have not yet been fully investigated. The effects brought by the type of device refill and nicotine are yet inconclusive due to lack of evidence. Coil aging has no significant impact on the PSD of e-cigarette aerosols within the coil lifetime. Lastly, while computational models of particle deposition have been adopted to profile the deposition of e-cigarette mainstream emissions, existing models have limited applicability and generality when dealing with e-cigarette aerosols that have high volatility and hygroscopicity, which can dynamically evaporate or grow during the transport process. Additionally, the size-dependent chemical composition (e.g., nicotine and harmful and potentially harmful constituents) of e-cigarette aerosols is unknown, impeding the understanding of the health effects of e-cigarette use. Therefore, it is essential for future studies to bridge these knowledge gaps and unveil the mechanisms determining PSD and respiratory deposition.
... The devices themselves consist of a battery, a heating element (most often a coil), and a reservoir for storing e-liquid. A number of studies have investigated whether this is reflected in a reduced toxicant profile of ENDS aerosol and concluded that compounds such as carbonyls [5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12], tobacco-specific nitrosamines [13][14][15], polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) [14,16,17], volatile organic compounds [8,14,18], and others [19,20] are significantly reduced in comparison to the levels in mainstream cigarette smoke. Correspondingly, a number of scientific bodies have concluded that completely substituting ENDS products for combustible cigarettes may reduce a smoker's exposure to toxicants, including carcinogens [21,22]. ...
Full-text available
Aerosol constituent yields have been reported from a wide range of electronic nicotine delivery systems. No comprehensive study has been published on the aerosol constituents generated from the JUUL system. Targeted analyses of 53 aerosol constituents from the four JUUL products currently on the US market (Virginia Tobacco and Menthol flavored e-liquids in both 5.0% and 3.0% nicotine concentration by weight) was performed using non-intense and intense puffing regimens. All measurements were conducted by an ISO 17025 accredited contract research organization. JUUL product aerosol constituents were compared to published values for the 3R4F research cigarette and IQOS Regular and Menthol heated tobacco products. Across the four JUUL products and two puffing regimes, only 10/53 analytes were quantifiable, including only two carbonyls (known propylene glycol or glycerol degradants). The remaining analytes were primary ingredients, nicotine degradants and water. Average analyte reductions (excluding primary ingredients and water) for all four JUUL system aerosols tested were greater than 98% lower than 3R4F mainstream smoke, and greater than 88% lower than IQOS aerosol. In summary, chemical characterization and evaluation of JUUL product aerosols demonstrates a significant reduction in toxicants when compared to mainstream cigarette smoke from 3R4F reference cigarettes or aerosols from IQOS-heated tobacco products.
... Second, we also do not know which specific chemicals in e-cig smoke solution contribute to this outcome. Although we performed GC/MS for dicarbonyls and flavors, there is a lack of information on other chemical components such as nicotine, aldehydes, fine particulate matter, metals, propylene glycol, glycerol, formaldehyde [7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17] . Besides, since the e-cig smoke solution used in this study was collected in 2016, it may not accurately reflect the current formulations of e-cig products. ...
Full-text available
The widespread use of electronic cigarettes (e-cig) is a serious public health concern; however, mechanisms by which e-cig impair the function of airway epithelial cells—the direct target of e-cig smoke—are not fully understood. Here we report transcriptomic changes, including decreased expression of many ribosomal genes, in airway epithelial cells in response to e-cig exposure. Using RNA-seq we identify over 200 differentially expressed genes in air–liquid interface cultured primary normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) exposed to e-cig smoke solution from commercial e-cig cartridges. In particular, exposure to e-cig smoke solution inhibits biological pathways involving ribosomes and protein biogenesis in NHBE cells. Consistent with this effect, expression of corresponding ribosomal proteins and subsequent protein biogenesis are reduced in the cells exposed to e-cig. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis identified the presence of five flavoring chemicals designated as ‘high priority’ in regard to respiratory health, and methylglyoxal in e-cig smoke solution. Together, our findings reveal the potential detrimental effect of e-cig smoke on ribosomes and the associated protein biogenesis in airway epithelium. Our study calls for further investigation into how these changes in the airway epithelium contribute to the current epidemic of lung injuries in e-cig users.
Electronic cigarette (EC) usage or vaping has seen a significant rise in recent years across various parts of the world. They have been publicized as a safe alternative to smoking; however, this is not supported strongly by robust research evidence. Toxicological analysis of EC liquid and aerosol has revealed presence of several toxicants with known carcinogenicity. Oral cavity is the primary site of exposure of both cigarette smoke and EC aerosol. Role of EC in oral cancer is not as well-researched as that of traditional smoking. However, several recent studies have shown that it can lead to a wide range of potentially carcinogenic molecular events in oral cells. This review delineates the oral carcinogenesis potential of ECs at the molecular level, providing a summary of the effects of EC usage on cancer therapy resistance, cancer stem cells (CSCs), immune evasion, and microbiome dysbiosis, all of which may lead to increased tumor malignancy and poorer patient prognosis. This review of literature indicates that ECs may not be as safe as they are perceived to be, however further research is needed to definitively determine their oncogenic potential.
Full-text available
The size and chemical content of particles in electronic cigarette vapors (e-vapors) dictate their fate in the human body. Understanding how particles in e-vapors are formed and their size is critical to identifying and mitigating the adverse consequences of vaping. Thermal decomposition and reactions of the refill liquid (e-liquid) components play a key role in new particles formation. Here we report the evolution of particle number concentration in e-vapors over time for variable mixtures of refill e-liquids and operating conditions. Particle with aerodynamic diameter < 300 nm accounted for up to 17% (or 780 μg/m ³ ) of e-vapors particles. Two events of increasing particle number concentration were observed, 2–3 s after puff completion and a second 4–5 s later. The intensity of each event varied by the abundance of propylene glycol, glycerol, and flavorings in e-liquids. Propylene glycol and glycerol were associated with the first event. Flavorings containing aromatic and aliphatic unsaturated functional groups were strongly associated with the second event and to a lesser extent with the first one. The results indicate that particles in e-vapors may be formed through the heteromolecular condensation of propylene glycol, glycerol, and flavorings, including both parent chemicals and/or their thermal decomposition products.
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During the 60s and the 70s strategies for decreasing initiation or quitting have been developed, in order to find those with high success rates. Unfortunately, interventions with an individual approach involved few smokers, so their impact in decreasing smoking prevalence was limited. The socio-ecological model offers a theoretical framework to community interventions for smoking cessation developed during the 80s, in which smoking was considered not only an individual, but also a social problem. In the 80s and the 90s smoking cessation community trials were developed, such as the Community Intervention Trial for Smoking Cessation (COMMIT). Afterwards, policy interventions (price policy; smoking bans in public places; advertising bans; bans of sales to minors) were developed, such as the American Stop Smoking Intervention Study for Cancer Prevention (ASSIST). California has been the first State all over the world to develop a comprehensive Tobacco Control Program in 1988, becoming the place for an ever-conducted natural experiment. All policy interventions in tobacco control have been finally grouped together in the World Health Organization - Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC), the first Public Health Treaty. Study designs have changed, according to the individual, community, or regulatory approaches: the classical randomized controlled trials (RCTs), in which the sampling unit is the individual, have been carried out for the evaluation of smoking cessation treatments, whereas cluster RCTs, in which the sampling unit is the community, have been conducted for evaluating community interventions, such as COMMIT. Finally, quasi-experimental studies (before/after study; prospective cohorts, both with a control group), in which the observational unit is a State, have been used for evaluating tobacco control policies, such as ASSIST and the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project. Although the successes of the last 20 years, tobacco control is at a critical point: in a reductionist approach, we tried to study its parts, but few efforts have been done to consider tobacco control as a complex network that needs an alternative approach to be understood, the systems thinking approach. New attempts of understanding and solving contradictions within tobacco control using a systems thinking approach are presented.
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The need for novel and more effective approaches to tobacco control is unquestionable. The electronic cigarette is a battery-powered electronic nicotine delivery system that looks very similar to a conventional cigarette and is capable of emulating smoking, but without the combustion products accountable for smoking's damaging effects. Smokers who decide to switch to electronic cigarettes instead of continuing to smoke would achieve large health gains. The electronic cigarette is an emerging phenomenon that is becoming increasingly popular with smokers worldwide. Users report buying them to help quit smoking, to reduce cigarette consumption, to relieve tobacco withdrawal symptoms due to workplace smoking restrictions and to continue to have a 'smoking' experience but with reduced health risks. The focus of the present article is the health effects of using electronic cigarettes, with consideration given to the acceptability, safety and effectiveness of this product to serve as a long-term substitute for smoking or as a tool for smoking cessation.
Riassunto Da qualche anno si sta diffondendo l'uso di un dispositivo elettro-nico, chiamato "sigaretta elettronica", come supporto alla smo-king cessation. Esistono pochi dati clinici su questo prodotto, e pertanto la WHO ha raccomandato prudenza nel suo uso fino a quando non saranno chiariti la sua efficacia e l'eventuale tossicità di alcuni componenti. D'altronde, però, non si può non riconosce-re il ruolo che alcuni ausili possono avere nel controllare la ge-stualità del fumatore, specialmente nei primi giorni di astinenza. Nell'articolo vengono riportate le attuali conoscenze sia in ambito tossicologico che clinico. Viene affrontato anche l'aspetto della differenza tra le varie formulazioni in commercio, alcune delle quali prive di nicotina. Parole chiave: sigaretta elettronica, smettere di fumare, nicotina, craving da nicotina. Summary Over the last years the use of an electronic device, called "elec-tronic cigarette", has spread as an aid in smoking cessation. Thus far, research on this product has shown little clinical da-ta. For this reason, WHO has recommended caution in its use until its effectiveness is clarified and the possible toxicity of some components is exluded. On the other hand, we can not ignore the role that some products may have in controlling the smoker's gesture, expecially during the first days of abstinen-ce. This article reflects the current state of clinical and toxico-logical knowledge. It considers as well the differences among in similar products offered on the market, some of which are Nicotine-free.
Concerns have been raised that the advent of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) may be harmful to public health, and smokers have been advised by important agencies such as the US Food and Drug Administration not to use them. This paper argues that, while more research is needed on the cost-benefit equation of these products and the appropriate level and type of regulation for them, the harms have tended thus far to be overstated relative to the potential benefits. In particular: concern over repeated inhalation of propylene glycol is not borne out by toxicity studies with this compound; risk of accidental poisoning is no different from many household devices and chemicals available in supermarkets; concern that e-cigarettes may promote continued smoking by allowing smokers to cope with no-smoking environments is countered by the observation that most smokers use these products to try to quit and their use appears to enhance quitting motivation; concerns over low nicotine delivery are countered by evidence that the products provide significant craving reduction despite this in some cases; and e-cigarettes may help reduce toxin exposure to non-smokers.
Smoking, either active or passive, is associated with increased cardiovascular risk with passive smoking alone reported to have a 30% to 60% higher event rate.1–3 Endothelial dysfunction, as a biomarker of atherosclerotic progression, is known to be affected by smoking.4 Long-term effects of childhood exposure to passive smoking on endothelial dysfunction in later life remains poorly understood but, if addressed, this is an issue that would be important not only for medical reasons but also for social reasons such as public awareness and health recommendations. See accompanying article on page 1024 In the current issue, Juonala et al examined whether parental smoking in childhood is predictive of disrupted endothelial function (endothelium-dependent vasodilation) as assessed using brachial flow-mediated dilatation (FMD) methods more than 20 years later when the subjects reached adulthood. To test this hypothesis, the authors used 2 large independent cohorts followed up since childhood with follow-up periods …
Passive smoking has been associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity. The present study aimed to examine the long-term effects of childhood exposure to tobacco smoke on endothelium-dependent vasodilation in adults. The analyses were based on 2171 participants in the population-based Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns (N=2067) and Childhood Determinants of Adult Health (N=104) studies who had measures of conventional risk factors (lipids, blood pressure, adiposity, socioeconomic status) and self-reported parental smoking status when aged 3 to 18 years at baseline. They were re-examined 19 to 27 years later when aged 28 to 45 years. Brachial artery flow-mediated dilatation was measured at follow-up with ultrasound. In analyses adjusting for age, sex, and childhood risk factors, flow-mediated dilatation was reduced among participants who had parents that smoked in youth compared to those whose parents did not smoke (Young Finns: 9.2 ± 0.1% (mean ± SEM) versus 8.6 ± 0.1%, P=0.001; Childhood Determinants of Adult Health: 7.4 ± 0.6% versus 4.9 ± 0.9%, P=0.04). These effects remained after adjustment for adult risk factors including own smoking status (Young Finns, P=0.003; Childhood Determinants of Adult Health, P=0.03). Parental smoking in youth is associated with reduced flow-mediated dilatation in young adulthood measured over 20 years later. These findings suggest that passive exposure to cigarette smoke among children might cause irreversible impairment in endothelium-dependent vasodilation.
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) use a heating element to vaporize nicotine and other ingredients, simulating the visual, sensory, and behavioral aspects of smoking without the combustion of tobacco. An ever-growing number of companies around the world manufacture a wide variety of e-cigarette brands, despite scant information on the safety of the ingredients for human inhalation. This article provides an overview of the history, production, and marketing of e-cigarettes, the contents of e-cigarettes and vapor, how they are used, public health concerns, and implications for nursing practice, research, and policy development.