Do Certain E-Liquid Flavors Irritate Your Lungs? Do Certain E-Liquid Flavors Irritate Your Lungs?

Have you ever noticed that vaping with certain flavors leaves your lungs feeling a little raw and irritated? This is a common occurrence for vapers and most people attribute it to sensitivity to propylene glycol and they just switch to eliquids made from vegetable glycerin instead. Now new research presented at the 2015 American Thoracic Society International Conference shows that some eliquid flavors could actually be irritating lung tissues on a cellular level. So is this something you need to be worried about? Well, maybe.

The scientists noted that some of the chemicals used to make flavorings caused changes to cell viability, cell proliferation, and calcium signaling. Lead scientist Temperance Rowell from UNC Chapel Hill explained, “The effects of the various chemical components of e-cigarette vapor on lung tissue are largely unknown.”

“In our study using human lung epithelial cells, a number of cell viability and toxicity parameters pointed to 5 of 13 flavors tested showing overall adverse effects to cells in a dose-dependent manner.” To measure how various flavors impacted the lungs, the researchers used cultured cells from a human airway and exposed them to various doses of 13 eliquid flavors for 30 minutes or 24 hours. During the half hour test, three particular flavors caused an irritation: Hot Cinnamon Candies, Banana Pudding, and Menthol Tobacco. In the 24 hour study, these same flavors had damaging impacts on the cells.

The good news is that nicotine and other basic eliquid ingredients (PG and VG) didn’t cause any toxic effects. It seemed that the irritating response was only due to flavorings. Rowell said that further study is needed to really determine which chemical flavorings are causing the irritation. “Give the increasing popularity of flavored e-cigarettes, a better understanding of their ingredients, the potential health risks of these ingredients, and the causes of these risks is urgently needed.”

Have you ever noticed lung or throat irritation with certain flavors? Have you had a negative reaction when vaping with cinnamon, banana pudding, or menthol?


Katie Bercham - CocktailNerd Editor

Katie actually had a negative first experience of electronic cigarettes, picking up a cheap and horrible model from my local mall. Thanks to a chance meeting with co-editor David, she hasn’t had a tobacco cigarette in over 5 years. She brings a strong female voice to the e-cig community.