White Paper Summarizes New Research on Potential Hazards of e-Cigarette Use
Last month, AIHA issued a white paper that reviews current scientific information and evaluates the impacts of chemicals used in and emitted from e-cigarettes. The paper—which was developed by AIHA’s Indoor Environmental Quality and Risk Committees—presents evidence that e-cigarettes can release airborne contaminants that may affect both users and people in their vicinity.  “Scientific evidence is growing that supports the concern that emissions from e-cigarettes contain potentially hazardous chemicals that can impact both the user and bystanders,” said Cheri Marcham, PhD, CIH, CSP, CHMM, FAIHA, team leader of the group of industrial hygienists who researched and developed the white paper.      Although vaping has been promoted as a beneficial smoking cessation tool and an alternative nicotine delivery device that contains no combustion byproducts, research indicates that vaping solutions and their emissions contain potentially hazardous chemicals. These include aerosolized flavorings, propylene glycol, nicotine, and other intentional and unintentional contaminants, including cancer-causing substances such as formaldehyde. Most of the flavorings used in e-cigarettes are generally recognized as safe for ingestion, but there is little or no information on potential health effects from inhaling those chemicals or from the byproducts created by heating those chemicals in the device.   Given that such a wide variety of e-cigarette devices are in use and that users’ vaping styles can vary, it is difficult to predict actual secondhand exposures. However, research has confirmed that not all of the nicotine, propylene glycol, or vegetable glycerin inhaled is absorbed by the user, which means that exposures to bystanders are possible.  Because the magnitude of health and safety hazards that vaping may present to nonusers remains unclear, it is important to manage and control vaping in indoor locations where smoking is currently restricted. E-cigarettes should be considered a source of aerosols, volatile organic compounds, and particulates in the indoor environment that have not been thoroughly characterized or evaluated for health risk or safety.  AIHA’s white paper outlines several recommendations intended to protect the public and better understand the potential health and safety risks associated with vaping. To obtain a PDF copy of the document, visit AIHA's website. For more information, read the article earlier in this issue.

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