E-Cigarette Toxic Chemicals

E-Cigarette Toxic Chemicals
Some research has suggested that e-cigarette cartridges may contain carcinogens, such as formaldehyde, and other toxic chemicals. However, these products are often marketed as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes.

Attorneys Investigating E-Cigarette Injury Claims

The attorneys at Bernstein Liebhard LLP are investigating injury claims related to  e-cigarettes. If you suspect that you or a loved one suffered harmful effects from toxic chemicals in electronic cigarettes, our legal team would like to hear from you. To obtain a free, no-obligation review of your case, please call (888) 994-5118.

Studies Detect Toxic Chemicals, Carcinogens in E-Cigarettes

While research so far is limited, a handful of studies have detected toxic chemicals in some e-cig liquids and vapors:

  • December 2015: Harvard researchers analyzing 51 e-cigarette products found the flavoring diacetyl in 39 (up to 239 μg/e-cigarette). Diacetyl has been linked to a dangerous respiratory ailment called popcorn lung, The study team also found that 46 flavored e-cigarettes contained acetoin (up to 529 μg/e-cigarette) and 23 contained 2,3-pentanedione (up to 64 μg/e-cigarette). Both of those chemicals have been tied to lung disorders.
  • November 2015: The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) said it purchased e-cigarettes, e-liquids, and other vaping products from major retailers between February and October 2015 and found that 90% contained formaldehyde or acetaldehyde or both. A test on one product found that the level of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, was more than 470 times higher than the California safety standard.
  • May 2014: The New York Times reports on two studies that found formaldehyde in the vapor produced by e-cigarettes known as tank systems
  • April 2014: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the number of calls to poison centers involving e-cigarette liquids containing nicotine has increased in recent years. The number of such calls rose from 1 per month in September 2010 to 215 per month in February 2014. A similar increase was not seen in calls involving conventional cigarettes.

FDA Finds Harmful Chemicals in E-Cigarettes

In 2014, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation, Office of Compliance purchased two samples of electronic cigarettes and components from two leading brands. These samples included 18 of the various flavored, nicotine, and no-nicotine cartridges offered for use with these products. The products were then analyzed for nicotine content and for the presence of other tobacco constituents, including those that are potentially carcinogenic or mutagenic. The testing revealed the following toxic chemicals in e-cigarettes:

  • Diethylene glycol, an ingredient in antifreeze that is toxic to humans, was detected in one cartridge at approximately 1%.
  • Certain tobacco-specific nitrosamines which are human carcinogens were detected in half of the samples tested.
  • Anabasine, myosmine, and β-nicotyrine – all tobacco-specific impurities that are thought to be harmful to humans – were detected in the majority of samples.
  • Those cartridges labeled as containing no nicotine actually had low levels of nicotine present, with the exception of one.
  • Three different electronic cigarette cartridges with the same label were tested and each cartridge emitted a markedly different amount of nicotine with each puff, ranging from 26.8 to 43.2 mcg nicotine/100 mL puff

The FDA does not currently regulate e-cigarettes. In April 2014, the FDA proposed a rule that would extend its regulatory authority to cover additional products that meet the legal definition of a tobacco product, such as vaporized cigarettes.

Researchers Detect Cancer-Causing Chemicals in E-Cig Vapor

Researchers writing in the August 2016 issue of Environmental Science and Technology reported that two previously undetected cancerous chemicals, propylene glycol and glycerin. had been found in e-cig vapors.  The federal government deems both chemicals to be possible carcinogens. These substances are also known to break down when heated, creating other toxins like acrolein and formaldehyde. Read More

Filing an E-Cigarette Lawsuit Can Help

Individuals who were allegedly harmed by e-cigarette toxic chemicals may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and other injury-related damages. To find out more about filing an e-cigarette lawsuit, please call (888) 994-5118 to get in touch with an attorney.

  1. Environmental Health Perspectives (2015) “Flavoring Chemicals in E-Cigarettes: Diacetyl, 2,3-Pentanedione, and Acetoin in a Sample of 51 Products, Including Fruit-, Candy-, and Cocktail-Flavored E-Cigarettes” http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/15-10185/#tab1
  2. CEH (2015) “A Smoking Gun: Cancer-Causing Chemicals in E-Cigarettes” http://www.ceh.org/campaigns/legal-action/current-work/e-cigs/
  3. New York Times (2015) “Some E-Cigarettes Deliver a Puff of Carcinogens” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/business/some-e-cigarettes-deliver-a-puff-of-carcinogens.html?hpw&rref=business&_r=2
  4. CDC (2014) “Notes from the Field: Calls to Poison Centers for Exposures to Electronic Cigarettes — United States, September 2010–February 2014”http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6313a4.htm?s_cid=mm6313a4_w
  5. FDA (2014) “Summary of Results: Laboratory Analysis of Electronic Cigarettes Conducted By FDA” http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm173146.htm



Last Modified: August 4, 2016

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