In the first study of its kind by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, traces of hundreds of unknown chemicals were found in e-cigarette vapor droplets. This study explains the presence of a vast array of unknown chemicals and compounds.
“Studies comparing e-cigarettes with regular cigarettes have shown that e-cigarettes are much less polluting than real cigarettes,” said Carsten Pras, lead author of the study. “But e-cigarettes contain unusual chemicals that we do not yet know how harmful they can be to human health.”
This is the first case of high-resolution liquid chromatography / mass spectrometry to perform a targeted analysis to detect possible compounds in e-cigarette vapor droplets. In these experiments, four popular flavors of tobacco were used in four common e-cigarette devices.
Approximately 2,000 different chemical compounds were identified in this study, most of which were unknown. Among them, there were six harmful compounds that researchers were able to identify. The six compounds contained a pair of respiratory stimulant flavors, three industrial chemicals, or pesticides, and, oddly enough, caffeine.
“Two of the four flavors we studied contained caffeine,” said Mina Tehrani, the study’s lead author. Flavors such as coffee or chocolate naturally contain some caffeine. But the presence of this substance in tobacco droplets is very surprising. “This could indicate that cigarettes have other harms that are still unknown to us.”
Another unexpected finding in this study was the detection of dense hydrocarbon-like compounds in vapor particles. These compounds are usually produced during combustion. But their presence in the steam is very strange.
A similar study recently conducted in Australia using gas chromatography / mass spectrometry found that each sample contained at least one type of harmful chemical. Examples include benzaldehyde, a respiratory stimulant, and trans-cinnamaldehyde, an immunosuppressive agent. The study also clearly showed the effects of nicotine, while e-cigarette advertisements claim to be nicotine-free.
These studies are certainly not the first to examine the harmful chemicals in e-cigarettes. We must keep in mind that e-cigarettes also have their drawbacks and should not be introduced as a healthy alternative to traditional cigarettes. People should be aware that e-cigarettes also contain harmful compounds, many of which are still unknown, and it is unclear what effects they will have on the body, especially adolescents.