Vaping is a relatively recent craze that has quickly become increasingly popular; It is estimated that worldwide, there are 20.8 million vape users. Electronic cigarettes arose on the American and European markets only within the last decade, which means we are unsure as to what effects this practice will have on its users in the long-run.
We are aware, however, of the likely health risks involved with vaping based on the chemicals which are used in the products. It is widely understood that vaping is far less likely to pose the same level of health risks as traditional, combustible cigarettes.
It may come as a surprise to some, but there is far more information available on the risk that vaping poses to non-users, as a result of second-hand vapor. This is due to the standards for measuring environmental chemicals, which may also be applied when it comes to factoring the risks of the vapor that comes from electronic cigarettes.
Scientists can estimate the toxins present in second-hand vapor, similar to how they measure the number of chemicals and metals that could potentially be inhaled are in workplace environments. Through this practice, scientists have discovered no evidence thus far to suggest that second-hand vape inhalation is a serious health threat to bystanders.
What is Second-Hand Vapor ?
Someone using an electronic cigarette device produces Second-hand vapor, and technically, it is an aerosol. Like second-hand smoke, it remains in the air, and may potentially be inhaled by others. However, it is not the same as second-hand smoke — because second-hand e-cigarette vapor isn’t smoke.
Alternatively, smoke is produced by combustion or burning a substance with fire. These substances include not only tobacco, but wood, leaves, and even made-made structures. Combustion produces carcinogens, CO2, volatile gasses, and a combination of other dangerous byproducts (in terms of cigarettes, these byproducts are referred to as “tar”). While second-hand smoke is nowhere as harmful as directly smoking a combustible cigarette, prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke is a severe health hazard.
Vaping devices produce vapor instead since the e-liquid contained is heated by an atomizer. The atomizer houses a metal coil which is capable of producing heat, transforming the liquid into a vapor. The vapor produced by these devices contains no CO2 and no harmful tar. While some dangerous metals and chemicals are present in this vapor, it is in very insignificant amounts. Compared to smoke, the vapor is low in toxins, making second-hand vapor far less dangerous than second-hand smoke.
Understandably, the general public is very concerned about the health risks associated with traditional cigarettes. This is due to both the potential harm that will be suffered by the user, as well as bystanders. The CDC reports that smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States; It attributes to 480,000 deaths in the country each year, one out of every five. Luckily, vaporizers are anything but traditional.
What Chemicals Are Contained In Second-Hand Vapor?
When the second-hand vapor is present in the air, it is all coming from the respiratory system or the persons, who are vaping nearby. Unlike the excess smoke that always rolls off of a burning cigarette, vaping devices do not produce a constant emission. Because all of the vapor is first filtered through the user’s lungs, throat, and mouth, second-hand vapor contains very few of the toxic substances.
Glycerin and propylene glycol together, create the base form of all e-liquids; Aside from these glycols, second-hand vapor does not emit large traces of any substance. Igor Burstyn, the Drexel University’s toxicology expert, has reassured the public that such small traces of toxins exhaled by e-cigarette vapor has very low risk.
While the vapor emitted by e-cigarettes is aerosol, traditional cigarettes release 5.4 times as much aerosol as vaping devices. Additionally, cigarettes produce 3.5 times more toluene and other organic volitile compounds into the air than e-cigarettes. Not only does e-cig vapor dissipate more quickly, but in studies, no carbon monoxide has been detected after the use of vaping devices. After the use of both vapes and combustible cigarettes, some level of nicotine are ten times higher concentration following the use of the combustible form.
Anything that is not inhaled with the vapor sinks, which could concern those who are already worried about “third-hand-nicotine” (unabsorbed nicotine which ends up on surfaces). One may believe this would make a case against vaping around children or pets. However, there are extremely insignificant amounts of nicotine left the vapor which settles on surfaces. In a 2016 study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, it was found that with e-cigarettes, the user will retain 98.3% of the nicotine in the vapor.
The particles released into the atmosphere during vaping, which is liquid, as opposed to the solid particles left behind by traditional cigarette smoke, do not seem to have any effect on the air’s quality. According to a 2017 study at the University of California San Diego, smoking tobacco, cannabis, even cooking or burning candles all affect the particle count found within the home.
Vaping, on the other hand (which occurred in 43 out of the 193 homes researched in the study) had such an insignificant effect on indoor air quality that the traces left behind from this practice were immeasurable.
Even studies conducted on the air quality in shops where these devices are sold showed that the levels of toxins present are below the occupational exposure limit. NIOSH, (an agency within the American Center for Disease Control), concluded that in a vape shop of thirteen customers vaping throughout the day, the levels of formaldehyde and chemicals used in flavoring were below the limit legally allowed.
And there was practically no nicotine present in the environment. Public Health England published a 264-page review of all available vape research. It ultimately concluded that the practice has not yet been identified as posing any health risks associated with second-hand vapor.
Is Second Hand Vapor Bad For Bystanders?
Taking into account all the vaping studies that second-hand vapor is perfectly safe, it is clear there is no risk to the public. And bystanders do not need to be concerned. Igor Burstyn’s studies have proven that whatever the potential risk is to those who use vaping products themselves. The potential exposure to aerosols and chemicals for others is ten, one hundred, one-thousand, or even ten-thousand times less.
Not only do vapes produce no C02, but they also provide extremely low levels of nicotine and harmful or volatile chemicals, compared to combustible cigarettes. These levels are so insignificant that often, they are entirely undetectable. The vapor also lasts for only a short while, as opposed to cigarette smoke which lingers, making vaping much preferable to smoking traditional cigarettes.
Although second-hand vaping shows no evidence of posing any severe risk to bystanders, concerns of friends and family should be respected at all times. Second-hand vapor is still not ideal for many people, especially those who have asthma, as the scent cased by the flavors can severely irritate the airways.
Since children are unable to have a say in the matter, vapers should always use good judgment where children are involved. While there is no evidence the second-hand vapor does any harm to children or babies, it is best to err on the side of caution.
Remember always to be courteous when it comes to your vaping habits and respect the rights of others to breath air free of second-hand vapor! E-cigarettes are popular due to being much more convenient than traditional cigarettes, which doesn’t mean you can’t be polite and step outside to vape!