The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab completed a study showing that vapor devices can emit toxins depending on the type of device, the coil materials, the age of the coil and the power output of the device. Their goal was to pinpoint the source and genesis of potentially toxic vapor compounds. And to help regulators determine criteria for safer vaping products. You can see more details here at Science Daily. This study was a great idea but missed a few critical specifics largely due to a lack of vaping knowledge.
Researchers found that acrolein emissions were detectable and varied depending on how long a coil was used, for example. Older coils that are gunked up can emit toxins. Not as much as a cigarette but detectable toxins nonetheless. What kind of coil? Stainless steel? Kanthal? What kind of device? We don’t know and we need to know. But, on the plus side, they did keep track of voltage output and measure output over the life of the coil.
They found that higher voltages products more toxins. They also found that the emissions worsened as the coil aged and was used more and more. This tells us to stick to quality and keep our coils fresh! Most of us do anyway but good to know. It also tells us that low voltage outputs are probably safer for vaping.
I also have to give the researchers a lot of credit. They did not buy some random ejuice with who knows what in it. They used PG and VG only. They did not use ejuice with any flavoring. As we know, it is the flavoring used in some low quality eliquids that often have diacetyl in them. These researchers did an excellent job in using eliquid that represents essentially all ejuice options.
I have to give you a full disclosure about this study. Honestly, it was conducted by some highly qualified and well-intentioned academics who know absolutely nothing about vaping and it shows. How do temp control vape mods with Ni200 coils compare to Kanthal at 100 watts? Should we all be vaping at lower wattages regardless of device? These are questions that we don’t know the answer to and had the researchers consulted with vapers, this study had huge potential.
Do Vapers Need A Nanny?
The answer is no. End of story.
If any researchers with an alphabet soup behind their name are reading, I would urge you that before you do any vaping study… talk to a vaper! We know which products are good and how to use them. We don’t vape with gummed up coils because the vapor sucks. We don’t overheat because the vapor sucks. When you burn the ejuice the vapor sucks. No one vapes that way.
Researchers need to understand HOW we use vaping devices and which ones. Researchers should work with us to identify what makes a quality product and what makes a dangerous product. Not talking to vapers and publishing a study about vaping is like writing a book about football having never spoken to someone that has played the game. You are not going to get it or understand it.
Ultimately, I do appreciate this study for one reason at least. The conversation about vaping safety should not be about vaping itself. We know vaping reduces risk by at least 95%. The conversation about vaping safety needs to be about product quality. That’s why ECCR exists, frankly. Our job is to separate the good products from the bad so people can make informed decisions.
We need to warn against clones and low quality devices. There are people in the vaping community who do not see clones as a problem. For those folks, they should look at this study because it is talking directly to them. Quality counts and the cheap materials use in cloned atomizer coils can be toxic.
The value of this study also speaks to vape shop owners. many vape shops do not even carry appropriate introductory level vaping devices. Any shop that gives a first time vaper and advanced mod with a complex subohm tank is not helping. Some of these mods are very powerful and potentially dangerous if misused.
There is a massive disconnect between real vapers and the people doing research on vaping. Until that bridge is crossed, we will not be getting the research that we need.
Is Nicotine Bad?
It seems like every study has a section commenting on the dangers of nicotine. But is nicotine bad for you? Really? It has always seemed a foregone conclusion that nicotine is addictive. It seems to be, similar to caffeine in that way. But a 2014 study at Vanderbilt University showed that nicotine needs assistance from other compounds for the addiction to become so powerful. We are only just now finding this out. Nicotine, as it turns out, may have therapeutic potential for numerous neurological conditions.
Think about this. Just a few years ago we were saying that there were 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke. Now, with improved detection methods, we say there are 7,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke. Another study found that there are additional addictive compounds in cigarette smoke. These addictive compounds are perhaps the aggravating presence that makes cigarettes so addictive and exacerbates nicotine addiction.
If nicotine is bad for anyone, it is bad for kids and young people. Nicotine can negatively impact developing brains. After all, nicotine mimics the function of a neurotransmitter. Nicotine is no joke. We have to be smart about it. But it is also not the bogeyman that kills people. Combustion and smoking are the killers. Electronic cigarettes save lives.