Vaping study: Second-hand e-cig vapor evaporates within seconds; poses no health risks

A new vaping study offers additional evidence that the second-hand vapor from e-cigarettes poses no significant health threats to innocent bystanders because it essentially evaporates into thin air within about 10 seconds.  On the other hand, the second-hand smoke from combustible cigarettes can linger in the environment for up to thousands of times longer and can remain trapped inside interior furnishings for several years. 

The basis of the research focuses on the health benefits of e-cig vapor “evaporation” compared to cigarette smoke “ventilation” methods for harm reduction.  It’s a unique approach to vaping research that as yet has gone largely untapped.  The scientific team was led by Dr. Dainius Martuzevicius of the Department of Environmental Technology, Kaunas University of Technology, Kaunas, Lithuania.  Their peer-reviewed paper entitled Characterization of the Spatial and Temporal Dispersion Differences Between Exhaled E-Cigarette Mist and Cigarette Smoke is recently published just last week in the Oxford Academic medical journal.  

Overview of the second-hand vaping study

The scientific community is heralding the new research as the most thoroughly detailed of its kind to “investigate the dynamic properties of exhaled e-vapour aerosol particles.”  The experiment was an international collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology providing the laboratories and the vaping technology company Fontem Ventures offering a large percentage of the funding.

Related Article: Study shows e-cig vapor is 99% less carcinogenic than second-hand smoke

The scientists determined that the exhaled vapor from electronic cigarettes decays or evaporates within seconds back to the initial background levels of contamination prior to the commandment of the vaping activities.  The rapid evaluation rates even occur within enclosed spaces with or without ventilation systems.  Conversely, the second-hand smoke from combustible cigarettes takes approximately 30-45 minutes to dematerialize.  Furthermore, proper room ventilation is an absolute necessity in order to restore the room to previous environmental background levels air quality.   

“For both product categories, the particle concentrations registered following each puff were in the same order of magnitude. However, for e-cigarettes the particle concentration returned rapidly to background values within seconds; for conventional cigarettes it increased with successive puffs, returning to background levels after 30–45 minutes. Unlike for the e-cigarette devices tested, such temporal variation was dependent on the room ventilation rate. Particle size measurements showed that exhaled e-cigarette particles were smaller than those emitted during smoking conventional cigarettes and evaporated almost immediately after exhalation, thus affecting the removal of particles through evaporation rather than displacement by ventilation.”

The scientists conducted their research under a variety of environmental conditions.  The concentrations and sized of both e-cig vapor and combustible cigarette smoke were carefully monitored and evaluated at all times.   Volunteers were asked to blow cigarette smoke or e-cig vapor towards a heat mannequin representing an innocent bystander.  The activities also took place from a multitude of distances and under varying conditions of divergent room ventilation rates.   The scientists further conclude that “exhaled e-cigarettes aerosols release very low levels of chemicals into the ambient air and are unlikely to pose an issue to bystanders based on regulatory indoor air quality standards.”

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

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