Health & Wellbeing

Study finds electronic cigarettes can cause health problems too

Study finds electronic cigarettes can cause health problems (Photo: Gizmag)
Study finds electronic cigarettes can cause health problems (Photo: Gizmag)
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The image shows e-cigarette fluid leaking out of a cartridge, making it difficult to handle without touching the nicotine solution (Image credit: Talbot lab, UC Riverside)
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The image shows e-cigarette fluid leaking out of a cartridge, making it difficult to handle without touching the nicotine solution (Image credit: Talbot lab, UC Riverside)
Study finds electronic cigarettes can cause health problems (Photo: Gizmag)
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Study finds electronic cigarettes can cause health problems (Photo: Gizmag)

Researchers from the University of California, Riverside, have some bad news for smokers looking to put a halt to the filthy habit by using electronic quitting aids. After examining various aspects of a handful of commercially-available electronic nicotine delivery systems, the team concluded that so-called e-cigarettes are unsafe and pose a health risk. They are now calling for such devices to be withdrawn from sale pending a rigid safety evaluation.

Electronic cigarettes give users a dose of nicotine without burning tobacco. They're made up of a battery, an atomizer, and a cartridge containing nicotine and propylene glycol. When someone takes a draw, a sensor activates the battery which changes the tip of the device red to simulate smoking and also heats the atomizer. This vaporizes the chemicals and the e-cigarette then delivers a dose of nicotine into the user's lungs.

Such devices are readily available in shopping malls throughout the U.S. but there's been "virtually no scientific studies on e-cigarettes and their safety," according to Prue Talbot, professor of cell biology and neuroscience. The research team from University of California, Riverside decided to find out exactly how safe so-called e-cigarettes are and purchased products from five companies.

The image shows e-cigarette fluid leaking out of a cartridge, making it difficult to handle without touching the nicotine solution (Image credit: Talbot lab, UC Riverside)
The image shows e-cigarette fluid leaking out of a cartridge, making it difficult to handle without touching the nicotine solution (Image credit: Talbot lab, UC Riverside)

The image shows e-cigarette fluid leaking out of a cartridge, making it difficult to handle without touching the nicotine solution (Image credit: Talbot lab, UC Riverside)

They examined the design, accuracy and clarity of labeling, nicotine content, whether the devices or cartridges leaked and looked for defective parts. How the devices and components were disposed of at the end of their useful lives, whether any errors were made in filling orders, and the quality of the instruction manual and what claims were made while advertising, were also scrutinized.

The team found numerous issues including lack of essential warnings, poor or confusing usage instructions and a lack of information about what exactly is contained in the e-cigarettes. Kamlesh Asotra of the University of California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program - which part-funded the study - confirmed that "virtually nothing is known about the toxicity of the vapors generated by these e-cigarettes."

They discovered various documents which made claims that could not be scientifically substantiated and, although the researchers found specific design differences between the brands, most of the cartridges were found to leak, which could lead to exposure to a dangerous and addictive chemical. Manufacture was unregulated and environmentally-sensitive disposal methods lacking.

The study concluded with the researchers stating that e-cigarettes pose a health risk to users and are urging regulators to consider their removal from the market pending a rigid safety evaluation.

The results from the study have now been published online at Tobacco Control.

75 comments
Oliver McFishcloud
Eating can cause health problems. People fear newness because it signifies change that could possible make life uncomfortable, or even dangerous for those who don\'t want to adapt to that change. Fear is useful, but oversold.
Nick Thompson
Yeah lets pull them off the shelves, but not pull ciggs off the shelves... brilliant!
Patricia Clewell
No, that\'s absolutely not what this \"study\" found. As Dr. Michael Siegel calls it, this is typical \"science by press release.\" From Dr. Siegel\'s blog, \"The Rest of the Story,\" regarding this \"study\": \"Had the study in question actually evaluated the safety of electronic cigarettes, by analyzing the constituents of the e-cigarette vapor or the health effects of the product on users, then it would be appropriate for the researchers to disseminate a conclusion about the safety or lack of safety of electronic cigarettes. But I think it is irresponsible to disseminate such a conclusion when the study provided no information on the safety of using the product.\" http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com/
Facebook User
@Nick Thompson My thoughts exactly..
Iceshack
I totally agree as well. Also it said leak will lead to exposure to a dangerous and addictive chemical.hmmm would that be more harmful than cigs. I think not. I have been using one for 6 months now and my cough has gone and my blood pressure has gone back to normal as well. I will take my chances with this instead of going back to smoking
pf1
The study to determine health risks of e-cigs was based on order accuracy, disposal methods, and basically nothing of any ACTUAL HEALTH significance. Wonder if the research team was funded by a government grant or the tobacco industry?
Firehawk70
Fortunately the e-cigarette lobby is non-existent compared to the tobacco lobby which still pretty much owns a piece of Congress. It\'ll take a couple months to pull e-ciggs but tobacco will NEVER leave. Although honestly, if Repubs have their way, no legislation will ever pass again if it doesn\'t have something to do with making rich people richer, so I guess we can forget about pulling either from the shelves.
Canfu
Nobody would claim that electronic cigarettes are completely innocuous, but they only have to be less toxic/harmful/nasty than cigarettes to be a better alternative. It\'d be great to be informed of any dangers attributed to e-cigarettes, but until it\'s shown that they are worse than cigarettes, it\'s irresponsible to scare people into choosing the greater of two evils. And yes- using phrases like, \"could lead to exposure to a dangerous and addictive chemical,\" is scare tactics. We\'re not talking about toxic waste or crack cocaine, it\'s nicotine- which is the same dangerous and addictive chemical found in cigarettes.
Danny Huff
The claim of possible health problems is also apparently unsubstantiated. Big Tobacco must be really worried about losing profits because they\'re applying all kinds of political pressure to hinder the development and marketing of ecigs. The sky is falling.....
Eletruk
Really? A device that dispenses a known poison (Nicotine) is dangerous?