Are e-cigarettes and vaping safe?  Many people think so…at least they must be safer than smoking regular tobacco, right?

Check out this quote from a pregnant Baby Center user: “I am new to the vaping but starting today I don’t feel half as guilty as I did puffing on a cigarette. I started with the lowest amount of nicotine, and will drop down to nothing as soon as possible. I’ve researched this up and down on the Internet and honestly I feel worse that I didn’t jump on this sooner. I’m not saying that these things are 100% safe. But in my opinion nicotine alone is safer than the hundreds of chemicals that are given off on a cigarette alone.” Perhaps this woman doesn’t realize that there are also chemicals in e-cigarettes?

The truth of the matter is that vaping and e-cigarettes are still so new we don’t actually know how much damage the chemicals in the vapor might do to our bodies; and vaping is not yet well regulated so there are no industry standards to meet when making vaping chemicals.  We are slowly gaining some evidence that these chemical may be very dangerous.

An article came out in July from Medical News Daily about a terrible disease commonly called popcorn lung. The medical name is bronchiolitis obliterans.  Is it just me or does “obliterans” sound a lot like “obliterate”….total destruction of important lung tissue?  The disease causes scarring in the tiny air sacks of the lungs resulting in thickening and narrowing of the airways.  Popcorn lung is known to be caused by artificial food flavorings such as the flavorings used in the manufacturing of candy, popcorn, potato chips and dairy products. Microwave popcorn producers stopped using a chemical called diacetyl because it was found to be making factory workers sick with popcorn lung.  The American Lung Association states that, “Even though we know that diacetyl causes popcorn lung, this chemical is found in many e-cigarette flavors. It is added to “e-juice” liquid by some e-cigarette companies to complement flavorings such as vanilla, maple, coconut and more.”  They went on to say, “So while diacetyl was swiftly removed from popcorn products since it could cause this devastating disease among factory workers, e-cigarette users are now directly inhaling this harmful chemical into their lungs. In fact, researchers at Harvard found that 39 of 51 e-cigarette brands contained diacetyl. The study also found two similarly harmful chemicals—2,3 pentanedione and acetoin—present in 23 and 46 of the 51 flavors it tested. And roughly 92 percent of the e-cigarettes had one of the three chemicals present.”

Another article at Medical Daily looked specifically at pregnancy.  The studies referenced came to the conclusion that pregnant women who smoke e-cigs may be causing damage to their unborn. Studies on mice suggest even without nicotine present, prenatal and postnatal exposure to vapors from e-cigarettes can cause changes in the brain affecting mental health, like schizophrenia and activity issues.  The article stated, “E-cigs have been found to contain many of the same toxins as traditional smoke, including acrolein, acid aldehyde, and formaldehyde.”

With all of the studies pointing to the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes, the American Lung Association feels like these products pose a significant public health risk. Here is a link to their fact sheet on e-cigarettes.  Our youth are at high risk for thinking that vaping is a fun and safe activity and are inhaling toxic fruity vapors.  We know regular cigarettes are bad for our health. Now we also know that e-cigarettes are bad for our health.