Research shows vaping propylene glycol kills pneumococci bacteria

Research shows vaping propylene glycol kills pneumococci bacteria

Vapers might be surprised to learn that current research suggests vaping e-liquids made with propylene glycol essentially kills multiple forms of airborne bacteria including streptococcus pneumoniae.  These bacteria are easily spread from one person to another simply by coughing, sneezing, or being within regular close contact.

Also known as pneumococcus, it is a documented cause of numerous ailments including bacterial pneumonia, ear and sinus disorders, and blood stream infections (bacteremia).  It is also closely linked to the potentially deadly meningitis, an infection of the brain and spinal cord.  Common symptoms of pneumococci infections include the following:

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Ear pain
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Coughing
  • Stiff neck
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Joint pain
  • Sleeplessness
  • Irritability

According to research, vaporized propylene glycol is a documented anti-bacterial agent.  Besides the pneumococci bacteria, it is also shown to kill streptococci and staphylococci bacteria which are known causes of food poisoning, strep throat, and impetigo.  One of the more noteworthy studies that documents these findings is entitled The Bactericidal action of propylene glycol vapor on microorganisms suspended in air.  The study is readily available for review via the NLB-NIH website.

Overview of the Puck research involving vaporized propylene glycol

Dr. Theodore Puck was an up-and-coming scientist when he first began experimenting with vaporized propylene glycol in the 1940s.  He was also an avid history buff who took a keen interest in past occurrences of widespread epidemics like the Black Plaque of the mid-fourteenth century which killed nearly one-third of the population of London.

Related Article: Foods that contain propylene glycol: Debunking the ‘antifreeze’ e-liquid myth

When he discovered that the infamous pandemic was only curtailed after townsfolk began setting parts of the city on fire, Puck began to wonder.  Maybe something in the ashen-filled London air was responsible for eradicating the airborne bacteria causing the massive outbreak of bubonic plaque.  After testing many different substances, he somewhat accidentally stumbled upon vaporized propylene glycol.

“The observations here reported add further support to the previously proposed conception of the mechanism of the lethal action of propylene glycol vapor, namely, that a bactericidal concentration of the glycol accumulates in the bacterial droplet as a result of contact with and absorption of glycol molecules from the surrounding atmosphere.”
“Pneumococci were killed by amounts of propylene glycol as low as 1 gm. in 20 million cc. of air. Concentrations of 1 to 5 million to 1 to 10 million were required to produce the same degree of killing of streptococci and staphylococci.”

Dr. Puck was considered such a world-class scientist that the New York Times published an eloquent article upon his death in 2005 regarding his many scientific achievements. Not even Puck himself could have possibly known that decades later, pro-vaping advocates would be still referencing his early work. 

It is the Puck research that is the basis for hundreds of later vaping studies which indicate that secondhand vapor of electronic cigarettes is far less dangerous to nearby non-vapers and non-smokers than the secondhand smoke of combustible cigarettes.  A recent study released by the California Department of Public Health (DPH) specifically states that “‘secondhand vaping’ does not appear to pose any significant health risks.”

Related Article:  Dr. Michael Siegel: CA vaping study shows second-hand vapor is harmless to public health

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