Millions of Americans are unknowingly exposed to toxic smoke from vapes and cigarettes on a regular basis, a study suggests.
Researchers at the University of Florida who tested the blood of 13,000 people found evidence of nicotine exposure in 51 percent of participants.
Of this group, a whopping 67.6 percent had maintained that they did not inhale smoke from vapes or cigarettes.
The findings suggest that 56 million Americans – or nearly one in five adults – unknowingly inhale this smoke.
The team warned that there is ‘no safe level’ of this smoke to inhale, saying it increases the risk of heart and lung problems and cancer. Separate research suggests it could even cause smaller testicles.
University of Florida researchers say millions of Americans unknowingly inhale smoke from vapes and cigarettes (stock image)
The negative health effects of cigarette smoking are well documented, but scientists are beginning to understand the extent of the damage that the super-popular e-cigarettes, once considered a safer smoking choice, have on the entire body.
Vaping has taken off in the US, where more than nine million Americans now use the devices, and its popularity has risen to as many as one in four high school students.
Cigarette smoking also remains fairly common, with 28 million Americans lighting up cigarettes regularly, mostly in the Midwest and South. However, in some areas, such as Manhattan, the practice has all but disappeared.
Smoke from cigarettes and vapes can linger in the air for hours after being released in poorly ventilated indoor areas, putting others at risk of inhaling it.
Dr. Ruixuan Wang, a public health expert who led the study, warned: ‘There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, and long-term exposure can increase the risk of many chronic conditions.
“(These include) coronary heart disease, respiratory disease and cancer.”
She added: ‘We want people to be aware of their exposure so they can take protective measures.’
For the study, researchers analyzed data from the US National Health Examination Survey (NHANES), conducted between 2013 and 2020.
This survey is conducted annually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help assess the nation’s health.
For their study, the researchers looked at a nationally representative sample of survey data on Americans who reported secondhand smoke – the inhalation of vapors from smokers and vapers.
They also looked at data from blood tests for cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine produced by the body after a person inhales smoke. It can remain in the blood for days.
Researchers found that a total of 34.6 percent of participants underreported their nicotine exposure.
They also found that the levels of cotinine in the blood of people who reported exposure to secondhand smoke were higher than among those who did not report it.
Dr. Jennifer LeLaurin, a biomedical expert and senior author of the study, added: ‘It could be that at low levels you may not notice it.
‘You are in a public environment and you may not even be aware that someone around you is using tobacco. Maybe it’s so small that you forgot about it.
‘It is also possible that some respondents were aware of exposure to second-hand smoke but chose not to report it due to the stigma.’
It comes after a study in mice suggested that exposure to vape smoke makes your testicles smaller and lowers your sperm count.
In research on male rats, experts from Turkey tested what effect exposure to smoke from e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes had on the sexual health of rodents.
They measured how much sperm the animals could produce, what their testicles looked like under a microscope and markers of stress in the blood and genitals.
The authors wrote: ‘It should be taken into account that although in smoking cessation studies it has been introduced that liquid (e-cigarettes) is harmless, it could increase oxidative stress and cause morphological changes in the testicle. ‘
But regular cigarettes – which have long been linked to male infertility – were even worse in terms of lowering sperm counts and interfering with sexual function.