How much nicotine exposure do we get from second hand vapor?
Among the several debates currently raging around electronic cigarettes is the question of whether ecigs should be regulated in public in the same way cigarettes are regulated. A new study published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research addresses this question. More specifically, it looks at just what bystanders are exposed to when people are vaping near them. Nonsmokers are understandably worried, especially given the clear health risks of secondhand tobacco smoke, but it looks like there is much less to worry about in second hand vapor from electronic cigarettes.
Two Lab Studies
Study co-author Maciej Goniewicz, a cancer researcher in the Department of Health and Behavior at the Roswell Park Center in Buffalo, New York had a lot to say on the research and what prompted it to Fox News in an article published on January 3, 2014. According to Goniewicz, electronic cigarettes have trace elements of toxins and certainly nicotine. However, research was lacking into what bystanders are exposed to around Vapers. That is why he ran two lab studies with his colleagues.
The first of the studies simply measured toxins in the air while a smoking machine produced electronic cigarette vapor in an enclosed area. Interestingly, this smoking machine didn’t live up to its name. It put out less nicotine than the subjects in the second study, but it is not quite clear why. The difference was not much, though.
The second study involved five adult men who smoke both traditional and ecigs. They had each of the men vape their own devices for five minutes twice in the span of an hour inside an enclosed area. The researchers measured the air during this process. The only noteworthy measurement was really the nicotine, which was expected to be there.
Results of Study
The amount of nicotine in electronic cigarette vapor was roughly 30 micrograms less per cubic meter than traditional cigarettes. That is a hugely significant decrease. Particulate matter was at seven times less than cigarettes. No carbon monoxide or other gases were increased by ecig use. Clearly, in terms of the measured toxins, ecigs are far safer than tobacco cigarettes, but the health risk to bystanders is still unknown.
Studies have been done on the risk presented by secondhand smoke, but not by second hand vapor. While toxins are clearly significantly less, it is impossible to say what those lesser toxins do to bystanders, if anything, according to Goniewicz. Nonetheless, if you are going to stand in a room full of nicotine addicts indulging in their habits, pick the one with the Vapers.