A new analysis of e-cigarettes has detected formaldehyde-containing compounds in the vapour the devices produce, raising questions about their potential health effects.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, analysed the aerosol drawn from a typical e-cigarette at different temperatures and found that at the highest temperatures formaldehyde was detected at levels several times higher than those found in regular tobacco cigarettes.
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Professor Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, University of London, comments:
“The study went searching for formaldehyde, one of carcinogens that are also present in cigarette smoke. It found it when e-liquid was heated to maximum and drawn via long puffs by a machine. In e-cigarette use by humans, overheating the liquid generates acrid tasting ‘dry puff’ which is unpleasant and avoided rather than slowly inhaled. When a chicken is burned, the resulting black crisp will contain carcinogens but that does not mean that chicken are carcinogenic. Without overheating the e-liquid, no formaldehyde was detected.
“Vaping may not be as safe as breathing clear mountain air, but it is much safer than smoking. It would be a shame if this study persuaded smokers who cannot or do not want to stop smoking and contemplate vaping that they might as well stick to their deadly cigarettes.”