The nonprofit research group RTI released a new research paper that explores the composition of e-cigarette vapor and the potential health impacts of secondhand exposure. The paper, titled “Exhaled Electronic Cigarette Emissions: What’s Your Secondhand Exposure,” finds e-cigarette emissions contain enough nicotine and other chemicals to cause concern. A non-user may be exposed to secondhand aerosol particles similar in size to tobacco and diesel engine smoke, according to a Newswise news report.
As e-cigarette products are not yet regulated, the chemicals and devices involved as well as the potential health impacts vary greatly. The Newswise news report notes that a number of factors influence the chemical makeup and toxicity of e-cigarette emissions, and the full scope of health impacts of e-cigarette smoke are unknown, in addition to secondhand smoke exposure on children.
Annice Kim, PhD, senior social scientist at RTI, states, “Secondhand exposure to e-cigarettes is just one aspect of the research that must be considered as we make decisions about appropriate use of these products. It is critical that we explore the role of e-cigarette marketing — especially to children and youth — so that we can better understand motivators for use and put public health safeguards in place.”
Jonathan Thornburg, PhD, author of the study, says, “As proliferation of e-cigarettes surges, understanding the health effects of e-cigarette use and exposure to vapors is essential. We need to be aggressively investing in and conducting research that answers lingering questions about the potential health impacts of secondhand exposure to e-cigarettes, while taking the necessary action to protect public health now.”