Are e-Cigarettes Safe for Use?
E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes are devices which run on batteries and resemble real cigarettes, but instead of tobacco they have nicotine (and other chemicals) filled cartridges. So when someone uses e-cigarettes, they inhale the vapor from the liquid chemicals.
There aren’t many relevant studies about the health risks of these cigarettes, but one research conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that e-cigarettes contain some toxic chemicals that could even cause cancer. Some of those chemicals are nitrosamines that are also found in antifreeze.
E-cigarettes have become popular on the U.S. market in 2007 and it was originally used to help smokers either stop smoking or minimize it. They became widely used, despite the lack of relevant research that would show that they do not cause any long-term health problems.
A study published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research in 2014 showed that people are very uncertain about the effects of e-cigarettes, as 37% of respondents said they wouldn’t like people to smoke e-cigarettes in areas meant for non-smokers.
The amounts of nicotine present in these cigarettes can vary from none to very high amounts (24-36 mg/ml).
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2015, the number of people calling poison centers because of e-cigarettes has significantly increased in the last five years. In 2014, an average of 215 people per month called to complain about negative side effects of smoking e-cigarettes.
This led the director of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden, to a conclusion that the liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes can actually be extremely dangerous.
More than half of those calls were about poisoned children. So this led e-cigarette supporters to conclude that these cigarettes are not overall dangerous, but they are meant for adults and they were misused by children. The majority of children poisoned were either in direct contact with the liquid or they digested it.
When it comes to chemicals found in these cigarettes, it is not actually clear what the producers put inside, nor the effects of those products. However, like all producers of any product, these too claim that their e-cigarettes are safe.
According to an analysis conducted by the FDA, besides varied levels of nicotine (depending on the brand), e-cigarettes also contain carcinogenic chemicals such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.
This led the FDA issue a warning about the potential hazards these cigarettes can bring. The mentioned chemicals are not the only detrimental ingredients found in e-cigarettes. A study conducted at the University of Southern California discovered that there were toxic amounts of some metals contained in the cigarette vapor of a certain popular brand of these cigarettes, and that those ingredients are significantly more dangerous and harmful than the smoke of normal cigarettes. Among these metals, the researchers found particles of chromium and nickel.
Several other studies have been conducted on this matter, including one published in PLOS ONE this year, which found that the vapor from e-cigarettes could affect the abilities of the lungs to fight off dangerous microbes. Also, most of these cigarettes contain similar amounts of nicotine as in regular cigarettes and are equally carcinogenic, as the researchers suggested and concluded that being exposed for a long time could increase the risk of cancer by causing cell mutations.
Although e-cigarettes contain less harmful substances than regular cigarettes, they do contain hazardous chemicals so they should not be seen as safe and used without precaution.