Research shows vaporized propylene glycol in vaping kills airborne bacteria

The anti-tobacco lobby loves to create confusion within the general population by claiming that vaping is just as dangerous as smoking.  Some of the more reprehensible members of this community even imply that vaping is even more deadly than combustible tobacco cigarettes

Unfortunately, their hard work seems to be paying off because vaping in public venues like bars, nightclubs, and restaurants is now largely prohibited in establishments that also ban smoking.  It now seems that the average American firmly bust mistakenly believes that second-hand vapor is just as hazardous to the health of innocent bystanders as the second-hand smoke from tobacco cigarettes.

Oddly, there are volumes of published research that seeming indicate otherwise.  Studies conducted as far back as the 1940s show that vaporized propylene glycol – a primary ingredient of e-liquids used in vaping – acts as an antibacterial for airborne pneumococci, streptococci, staphylococci, and other disease-inducing microorganisms. 

Vaporized propylene glycol:  The bacteria killer

One such decades-old study entitled The Bactericidal action of propylene glycol vapor on microorganisms suspended in air is still published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health (NLB-NIH).  Inspired by stories of the Black Plague in London of the late fourteenth century, lead scientist Dr. Theodore Puck learned that many historians believe the deadly devastation ended only after local townsfolk set almost the entire city on fire.

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Puck began to wonder:  Was there something in smoke of London’s burning flames that acted as a kind of plague-killer?  And if so, could that same chemical be helpful in preventing the spread of other diseases and epidemics?

After experimenting with several different chemicals, he accidentally stumbled upon vaporized propylene glycol.  Puck and his team discovered that when this substance is heated to a mere 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it eradicated airborne bacteria like pneumococci, streptococci, staphylococci.

“Data are presented showing the minimum glycol concentration necessary for effective bactericidal action on various microorganisms. 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. 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.”

Little did Dr. Puck know that nearly 70 years later, the vaping industry would rely on his research to select propylene glycol as the best possible ingredient for life-saving e-liquids.  It tastes great, does not require excessively high temperatures to vaporize, and is safe for humans to consume.  In fact, American grocery stores stock their shelves regularly with thousands of products using propylene glycol as an additive and sweetener, including ice creams, cake frostings, and the famous Entenmann’s pastries. 

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