Nicotine, aerosol particles, carbonyls and volatile organic compounds in tobacco- and menthol-flavored e-cigarettesReport as inadecuate

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Environmental Health

, 16:42

Environmental Epidemiology


BackgroundWe aimed to assess the content of electronic cigarette EC emissions for five groups of potentially toxic compounds that are known to be present in tobacco smoke: nicotine, particles, carbonyls, volatile organic compounds VOCs, and trace elements by flavor and puffing time.

MethodsWe used ECs containing a common nicotine strength 1.8% and the most popular flavors, tobacco and menthol. An automatic multiple smoking machine was used to generate EC aerosols under controlled conditions. Using a dilution chamber, we targeted nicotine concentrations similar to that of exposure in a general indoor environment. The selected toxic compounds were extracted from EC aerosols into a solid or liquid phase and analyzed with chromatographic and spectroscopic methods.

ResultsWe found that EC aerosols contained toxic compounds including nicotine, fine and nanoparticles, carbonyls, and some toxic VOCs such as benzene and toluene. Higher mass and number concentrations of aerosol particles were generated from tobacco-flavored ECs than from menthol-flavored ECs.

ConclusionWe found that diluted machine-generated EC aerosols contain some pollutants. These findings are limited by the small number of ECs tested and the conditions of testing. More comprehensive research on EC exposure extending to more brands and flavor compounds is warranted.

KeywordsNicotine Particles Carbonyls VOCs in e-cigarette emissions AbbreviationsACGIHAmerican conference of governmental industrial hygienists

CIsConfidence intervals

ECElectronic cigarette

EPAEnvironmental protection agency

IARCInternational agency for research on cancer

LODLimit of detection

NIOSHNational Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

OSHAOccupational Safety and Health Administration

PM2.5Particulate matter of aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 μm

PNCParticle number concentration

UFPsUltrafine particles, particulate matter of aerodynamic diameter less than 100 nm

VOCsVolatile organic compounds

WHOWorld Health Organization

Author: Mi-Sun Lee - Ryan F. LeBouf - Youn-Suk Son - Petros Koutrakis - David C. Christiani


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