An extensive research project into the relative health impacts of breathing in E-Cig fumes in August 2013 by the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at Drexel University in Philadelphia released (inter alia) these major findings:
“Even when compared to work environment criteria for voluntary exposures, and using a number of conservative (erring on the side of caution) presumptions, the exposures from using e-cigarettes fall well below the threshold for concern for substances with recognized toxicity. That is, even disregarding the advantages of e-cigarette use and the fact that the exposure is actively chosen, and even comparing to the ranges which are regarded as unacceptable to individuals who are not benefiting from the exposure and do not want it, the exposures would not generate concern or call for remedial action.
Stated concerns regarding nicotine only apply to vapers who do not want to consume it. A voluntary (in fact, deliberate) exposure is quite distinctive from a contaminant.
There is no major worry about the pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (formaldehyde, Acrolein, etc.) in the fluid or made by heating. Although these impurities exist, they have been found at serious amounts only in a few scientific tests that evidently had been based on unlikely degrees of heating.
The often proclaimed dilemma concerning contamination of the liquid by a nontrivial amount of ethylene glycol or diethylene glycol remains centered on a solitary trial of an early technology device (and even this did not climb to the amount that would trigger a health problem) and it has not been repeated.
Tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA) can be found in trace amounts and present no more danger to health than TSNAs from contemporary smokeless tobacco products, which trigger no quantifiable threat for cancer.
Contamination by metals has proved to be at equally insignificant ranges that present no hazard to health, and the alarmist statements regarding this kind of contamination derive from unrealistic presumptions about the molecular form of these substances.
The present literature has a tendency to overestimate the exposures and overstate their ramifications. This can be in part because of unsupported claims, but also is caused by technical features. The most crucial is misunderstandings of the concentration in aerosol, which by itself lets us know very little about danger to health, with the relevant and much smaller total exposure to substances in the aerosol averaged across all air inhaled throughout 24 hours. There is likewise distinct prejudice in past assessments in support of isolated cases of highest level of chemical discovered across multiple scientific tests, such that average exposure that can be worked out are greater than accurate value since they're “missing” all true zeros.
The sole unintended exposures (i.e., not the nicotine) that appear to increase to the degree that they are worthy of more investigation are the carrier substances themselves, Propylene Glycol and glycerin. This exposure is not proven to result in medical problems, but the degree of the exposure is novel and therefore is at the ranges for concern in line with the deficiency of good data”.
It’s hard to understand how this type of set of findings might be construed in any other way than that Vaping is a lot less dangerous than Cigarette smoking!
The paradox is that the E-Cig business also has a possible conflict if their goods were to be unconditionally shown to be harmless. Right now, the controversy plays into their hands, since the massive amount of mainstream media activity and coverage that is produced by the continuing argument is raising the products’ profile way beyond what marketing on it's own might actually do (for the small players). As soon as the Surgeon General takes a stance and says unconditionally that E-Cigs are less dangerous than Tobacco, the furore will die down and it will be up to the producers to pick up the slack using their own money.
What’s more, a statement of safety would then expose the second discussion to much more scrutiny, which is the issue of whether E-Cigs work well in aiding individuals to quit smoking tobacco. Now, apparently it’s against the law to make this type of claim, and considering the massive spending budgets of the lobby organizations on both sides, I’m not going to test that here. Nevertheless, anectodotal evidence indicates that E-Cigs do have a noticeable edge over other kinds of Nicotine Replacement.
The technological concern is this: E-Cig companies are caught in a Catch-22 of super proportions. If the industry adopts the message that E-Cigs are helpful for giving up tobacco smoking, the Big Pharmaceutical lobby has them corralled and Governing bodies could have no option but to force E-Cigs to be certified as Medicines. As soon as that takes place, the test and trial regimes required to obtain each license will force the producers into years of work and millions in investment, making the entire proposal limited in its practicability.