New study finds toxic chemicals in e-cigarette vapor

May 22, 2014

E-cigarettes may have the same amount of toxic chemicals or more than traditional cigarettes. A new study released by Roswell Park Cancer this week finds that the electronic devices might not be safer than tobacco cigarettes.

The study finds that when e-cigarettes are operated at a higher voltage the level of toxic chemicals increased in the vapor. Maciej Goniewicz, PhD, PharmD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute says some new e-cigarette devices give users the option to turn up the battery power or voltage in order to boost the amount of nicotine in the vapor. He says toxicants such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acetone we’re found to be emitted in the vapor of the devices.

Credit WBFO News file photo

“We know that they can cause cancer. So, by inhaling those compounds in elevated levels the risk of getting cancer can be increased. We still don’t know if this is the case, because this was only a study conducted in a laboratory. So, now we need to conduct the study with people who use the products,”

But, Goniewicz says when users keep the voltage level low only traces of toxic chemicals were found. He suggests users avoid increasing the voltage.

“All the evidence we’ve got right now suggests that electronic cigarettes are much safer than tobacco cigarettes. There is less chemicals in the vapor and even if there are some chemicals and potential toxicants in the vapor these levels are very low. So, it seems when the tobacco cigarette smoker switches to electronic cigarettes there might some health benefits,” said Goniewicz.

However, Goniewicz says if you aren’t a user of either type of cigarettes he doesn’t suggest taking up e-cigarette smoking.

Goniewicz will be leading the next part of the study, which will track how e-cigarettes affect user’s health compared to tobacco cigarettes. Researchers are looking for traditional cigarette smokers, e-cigarette users and users of both to take part in the study. For more information on how to get involved call (716) 845-4916.