This week, Portland State University published findings from their recent study on electronic cigarettes and now a lot of ecig users are worried. Scientists said they found high levels of formaldehyde in vapor samples and said the ecigs are actually producing much higher levels of the carcinogen than tobacco cigarettes. Have we all been in the dark about ecigs for so long or is this study simply misleading? Let’s take a closer look and find out who is really at risk.
Professor David Peyton led the study and he said the researchers examined vapor by drawing it up into syringes to simulate the lungs being filled with vapor after inhaling. When they started running tests on the vapor samples, they had some worrisome results. “We found this form of formaldehyde at significantly higher concentrations than even regular cigarettes (contain) – between five and fifteenfold higher concentration of formaldehyde than cigarettes,” Peyton said. “Long-term exposure is recognized as contributing to lung cancer.”
Before you go and throw all your ecigs in the trash, let’s take a closer look to see if their findings are accurate. The first thing to keep in mind is that just because they were able to find formaldehyde in a syringe of vapor, that doesn’t necessarily mean the same level would be found in your lungs after you vape. In fact, vapor contents are heavily determined by the heat settings of you ecig.
Gregory Conley from the American Vaping Association said voltage makes a world of difference in ecig vapor and the number of carcinogens that scientists can generate in a lab. With a little digging, we found that the Portland State University scientists only found formaldehyde when they generated vapor at the highest heat settings.
“If you hold the button on an e-cigarette for 100 seconds, you could potentially produce 100 times more formaldehyde than you would ever get from a cigarette,” Conley explained. “But no human vaper would ever vape at that condition, because within one second their lungs would be incredibly uncomfortable.”
Conley said he could generate similar scary test results on a piece of red meat. “I can take a steak and I can cook it on the grill for the next 18 hours, and that steak will be absolutely chock-full of carcinogens,” he said. “But the steak will also be charcoal, so no one will eat it.”
Professor Peyton even acknowledged that there was no formaldehyde found when ecigs were tested at low voltage levels. But he justified publishing the scary results by claiming that most vapers were using high heat levels. His only evidence was the fact that he sees big vapor clouds when he watches people use ecigs on the street.
Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos is well known for his cutting edge ecig research and he found a lot of fault in this study’s methodology. He weighed in on the results, saying, “It is more than obvious that the findings of very high levels of formaldehyde are a result of overheating,” he said. “Lack of experience on e-cigarettes and no contact with vapers can result in such erroneous and unrealistic results, which can create confusion and misinformation both in the scientific community and among users and potential users of e-cigarettes.”
Ultimately, it seems that vaping is perfectly safe if you are using cigalikes. But when you start moving towards mods or tank systems with variable voltage, you could potentially enter some dangerous territory. Do you think mods and tanks are a smart move to advance the ecig industry or should vapers stick to cigalikes for the health benefits? Do you worry that your mod could expose you to carcinogens?