A new study has challenged a previous suggestion that some electronic cigarettes could deliver levels of formaldehyde greater than those of traditional tobacco cigarettes.
In January, a report published as a research letter in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) found that a 3rd generation electronic cigarette (one with variable power settings) operated at its maximum power setting and with a long puff duration generated levels of formaldehyde that, if inhaled in this way throughout the day, would several times exceed formaldehyde levels that smokers ingest from traditional tobacco cigarettes, according to a press note from the journal Addiction.
This apparent new electronic-cigarette health hazard was reported worldwide.
But a new study published online today in the scientific journal Addiction took a closer look at the NEJM findings in the context of real-world conditions and came to a different conclusion. ‘It concluded that 3rd generation e-cigarettes can indeed produce high levels of aldehydes – but only under extreme conditions which human smokers can be expected to avoid because of the immediate unpleasant sensory effects,’ the press note said.
‘The Addiction study, led by cardiologist Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, found that it was possible to get e-cigarettes to produce high levels of aldehydes, but only in what is known colloquially as “dry puff” conditions. As Farsalinos explains: “Our results verify previous observations that it is possible for e-cigarettes to generate high levels of aldehydes; however, this is observed only under dry puff conditions, which deliver a strong unpleasant taste that vapers detect and avoid, by reducing power levels and puff duration or by increasing inter-puff interval. Minimal amounts of aldehydes are released in normal vaping conditions, even if high power levels are used. In those normal-use conditions, aldehyde emissions are far lower than in tobacco cigarette smoke.”’
Professor Peter Hajek, director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, UK, was quoted as saying that the findings of the Addiction study emphasized the importance of making clear the conditions in which tests were undertaken and avoiding sweeping assertions that could mislead the public.
“Vapers are not exposed to dangerous levels of aldehydes,” he said.
“My reading of the evidence is that e-cigarettes are at least 95 percent safer than smoking. Smokers should be encouraged to switch to vaping.”