Doctors are warning about the dangers of secondhand vaping, as evidence begins to mount about the health dangers of the devices.
Researchers found that a person vaping with a disposable or pod-based device like a Juul dissipates 22 times the safe level of microscopic toxins known as particulates.
The findings belie the belief of many e-cigarette users that the devices are safe to use in public, indoors, or around others because they do not produce the traditional pungent smoke released by traditional cigarettes, which contains thousands of chemicals, dozens of that they are carcinogenic.
In fact, vape devices often have a relatively non-offensive odor, and in some cases even produce a pleasant or fruity-smelling vapor.
The report authors said their findings suggested that e-cigarette vapor, which appears harmless compared to cigarette smoke, could pose health risks not just to the vape user.
Disposable e-cigarettes, such as the mega-popular PuffBars, produced the potentially most toxic particulate matter in the user’s immediate environment.
However, scientists from universities in Virginia and North Carolina reported that when e-cigarette users smoked in their cars for less than just 10 minutes, the air around them became charged with possibly poisonous particles.
The findings come just a day after the influential American Heart Association presented evidence that vaping devices, once considered a saving grace for cigarette smokers eager to quit, contain a cocktail of nicotine, solvents and flavors that pose the same serious cardiovascular health risks as smoking cigars.
The authors of the new study reported: “This study demonstrated that a single person using an ECIG [electronic cigarette] in a vehicle with the windows rolled up can cause a measurable increase in [particulate matter] concentration.
“Together, these data suggest that bystanders are likely to be exposed to secondhand ECIG aerosol when in a vehicle with someone who is actively using an ECIG.”
To reach their conclusion, the researchers recruited 60 e-cigarette users who had an average age of 20 years. The majority were men, more than 63 percent, and more than 83 percent were white.
The vast majority of study subjects were daily e-cigarette users and had been for at least one year, primarily USING disposable devices such as Puff Bars. Pod-based devices like Juul were the second most popular type of vape used.
However, disposable devices increased particle concentrations more than pod-based devices or larger, more advanced devices known as box mods.
Participants were asked to vape in their vehicles after 12 hours of going nicotine-free, first for five minutes with 10 puffs.
They were then allowed a 25-minute period of vaping at their leisure. Meanwhile, users were surrounded by four- to six-foot tubes connected to devices that measured the volume of matter in the air.
By minute seven in the car, 30 seconds after the last puff, the particulate concentration had reached an average level of 107.4 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³), more than 22 times the reference level (4, 78 µg/m³). This was the highest concentration that the researchers detected during the first measured episode of inflation.
At minute 19 of the leisure vaping period, the mean airborne matter level reached 21.32 µg/m3, but dropped to 13.26 after minute 31.
In both cases, the levels of airborne particles correlated with the number of breaths a person took.
Study participants took an average of 18 puffs (29 on average) during the entire session, although, in particular, there were two outliers who inhaled as many as 205 and 285 times.
The researchers removed those two outliers so as not to skew the results, and after doing so, the relationship between matter in the air and the number of puffs remained strong.
They said: ‘While the concentrations achieved by these two participants may not be typical in most vehicles where ECIG is used, they are cause for concern. Because [particulate matter] generated by ECIG use correlates with harmful toxic substances produced by ECIG use, those traveling in vehicles when active ECIG use is occurring are likely to be exposed to high concentrations of ECIG-generated toxic chemicals.’
The devices the researchers used to measure matter in the air did not analyze what it was made of.
However, the liquid in vape devices contains high levels of nicotine, as well as solvents, flavors, and thickeners, and the aerosol produced has been shown to contain formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds such as carcinogenic benzene and acetaldehyde.
Both the liquid and the aerosol present unknown long-term risks to users. Even less is known about the effects of secondhand steam.
Their findings were published in the journal Drug and alcohol dependency.