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New Study: E-Cigarettes Endanger Bystanders – Bans Growing

New Study: E-Cigarettes Endanger Bystanders – Bans Spreading

“Passive Vaping” Exposed Them to Toxic Cancer-Causing Chemicals

E-cigarettes, also called “electronic cigarettes” or “ecigs,” were recently blamed for a suspected terrorist incident in London and for a fire which burned 350 acres, but, more importantly, a new study confirmed earlier reports that ecigs give off toxic and cancer-causing chemicals which can endanger bystanders through a process similar to “passive smoking” called “passive vaping.” **

The study showed that ecigs give off a variety of volatile organic compounds, including formaldehyde, a toxic and allergenic irritant listed as “known to be a human carcinogen” by the U.S. National Toxicology Program; acetaldehyde, an irritant of the skin, eyes, mucous membranes, throat and respiratory tract, and classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] as a “probable human carcinogen”; acetone, an industrial solvent; as well as 1,2-propanediol, 1,2,3-propanetriol, diacetine, and a variety of tiny particles which lodge themselves into the lungs of those who inhale them.;jsessionid=33855B65D8E691F5D7D3BE1E9818DFC3.d02t04

The authors also report concerns that the solvents emitted by ecig may remain on surfaces “and be a source of the contamination of residents,” including changes over time which could make them more carcinogenic, and that the liquids used to refill ecig cartridges could spill and create additional health hazards. They conclude, with regard to concerns about “passive vaping” by bystanders, that, “with regard to a health related evaluation of e-cigarette consumption, the impact of vapor inhalation into the human lung should be a primary concern.”

Many earlier reports also warned about the dangers of chemicals found in ecig vapors which are inhaled by bystanders. For example, the Harvard Medical School warned: “electronic cigarettes deliver an array of other chemicals, including diethylene glycol (a highly toxic substance), various nitrosamines (powerful carcinogens found in tobacco), and at least four other chemicals suspected of being harmful to humans. To be sure, the dose of these compounds is generally smaller than found in ‘real’ cigarette smoke. But it isn’t zero.”

Indeed, although the most recent study also found that the concentrations of dangerous chemicals in ecig vapors were lower than those found in tobacco smoke, in some cases the amounts could still be considerable. For example, the concentration of acetone in ecig vapors is almost 40% of that found in smoke from conventional tobacco cigarettes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] has warned the public that ecigs contain various toxic, mutagenic, carcinogenic, and genotoxic chemicals, and that ecig cartridges containing the nicotine and other toxic chemicals, many of which come from China, are subject to “none of the manufacturing controls required for FDA-approved nicotine-delivery products” [like nicotine gum, patches, inhalers, sprays, etc.].

In addition to nicotine and propylene glycol, the FDA reported that it found in samples of e-cigarettes a variety of “toxic and carcinogenic chemicals” including diethylene glycol, “an ingredient used in antifreeze, [which] is toxic to humans”; “certain tobacco-specific nitrosamines which are human carcinogens”; and that “tobacco-specific impurities suspected of being harmful to humans – anabasine, myosmine, and nicotyrine – were detected in a majority of the samples tested.”

The principal components of ecig vapors are nicotine (a dangerous and addictive drug) and propylene glycol (which is used in antifreeze, and may cause respiratory tract irritation), notes public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who brought a law suit which helped establish the FDA’s jurisdiction over nicotine products. Until recently, nicotine was not generally regarded as a chemical capable of causing cancer, but recent research shows that it can be a carcinogen, either by itself or when modified by other chemicals found in the air.

Because of the dangers these many chemicals present to innocent bystanders, more and more jurisdictions are banning the use of ecigs in areas where the use of conventional tobacco cigarettes is prohibited, notes Banzhaf, who was the first to direct attention to the potential health risks to people in the vicinity of ecig users. His scheduled appearance on a major national news program pressured the FDA into releasing a previously-secret report about the dangers of ecigs, and he helped persuade New Jersey and Suffolk County, NY, to ban their use in no-smoking sections.

Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
2000 H Street, NW, Suite S402
Washington, DC 20052, USA
(202) 994-7229 //  (703) 527-8418!/profbanzhaf

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