VIEWED as a socially acceptable alternative to smoking – and a way to kick tobacco cravings – many people won’t bat an eyelid when you pull your vape indoors or at a social gathering.
But despite their inoffensive smell, scientists have sounded new alarms over vaping, warning that the pens spew microscopic toxins into the air around you with each puff.
Scientists have warned that vaping can fill the air with potentially toxic chemicals, which can be inhaled by people in the vicinity
A team of researchers from universities in Virginia and North Carolina observed that when e-cigarette users vaped in their cars for as little as 10 minutes, the air around them filled with possibly poisonous particulate matter known specifically as PM2.5 – this means the particles have a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or smaller.
The authors said their research “demonstrated that a single person using an ECIG [electronic cigarette] in a vehicle with the windows closed can cause a measurable increase in [particulate matter] concentration.”
They went on: “Data from the current study indicate that the most commonly used ECIG devices are capable of producing large amounts of PM2.5, resulting in increased risk for secondhand exposures.”
Published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, study suggested that anyone sitting in a car with the e-cigarette users – including children – could inhale “unwanted” levels of poisonous particles even if they weren’t vaping, in the same way they might be exposed to toxic secondhand cigarette smoke.
But their findings could apply more widely to other enclosed spaces.
To test how air quality is affected by e-cigarette use, the researchers observed 60 vape users, most of whom had smoked them daily for at least a year.
The researchers asked them to puff on their e-cigarettes for 30 minutes in their car and used aerosol monitors to sample the air quality in the vehicles before and after the smokers’ vape sessions.
Participants were first asked to take a puff every 30 seconds for the first five minutes and were then allowed to puff at their leisure for the remaining 25 minutes. Most took around 18 puffs in that time.
The research team found that just seven minutes in, particulate matter in the cars reached a median level of 107.4 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³), over 22 times higher than what it was before participants started vaping.
The more puff e-cig users took, the higher the levels of PM2.5 observed in the cars.
But researchers noted that disposable devices raised concentrations of particulate matter more than pod-based devices or larger, more advanced devices known as box mods.
They concluded: “ECIG use in vehicles impacts air quality negatively and may pose health risks to those present in vehicles when ECIG use is occurring.”
It was announced in April that smokers in England would be offered free vaping kits by councils in a bid to slash tobacco addiction rates.
But last month, dad-to-be Alex Gittins claimed his lung collapsed a month after switching from cigarettes to vaping, with him needing gruelling surgery to have it “glued” back onto his chest wall.
With evidence against the use e-cigarettes mounting, a recent study also warned that vaping while pregnant is no safer than smoking.