Tags: diethylene glycol, E-cigarette, E-liquid, nicotine
When Han Lik, a Chinese pharmacist and smoker, developed a smoking device that did not require the use of tobacco, therefore preventing lung cancer, the world immediately took to it.
The e-cigarette began circulating around the world in the early 2000’s. The beginning of the e-cigarette fame was mired in health-related issues. Australia and Canada had banned it, and even the FDA banned the import, production, and selling of e-cigarettes, saying that companies need to apply for a special registration. Of course, company owners fought against the prohibition, claiming that their products, unlike traditional cigarettes, are not hazardous to the health of the user.
Although it is now in global production, there are still debates on the possible intoxication of e-cig users.
In 2009, the US FDA conducted a study on e-cigarette production. They analyzed sample cartridges from two manufacturers and found out that the amount of nicotine in the cartridge does not always match the amount described in the labels. E-cigarette cartridges that contain e-liquid, the liquid used to produce smoke, are sometimes sold nicotine-free, according to manufacturers. The study by the FDA, however, revealed that these cartridges labeled “nicotine-free” were not actually free of nicotine.
What the FDA found out, which is also the main concern of other health organizations, is that an e-liquid can actually contain toxic chemicals like diethylene glycol.
While propylene glycol, an FDA-approved additive, in an e-liquid is generally harmful, it has not been used as vapor for a long period of time. This means that e-liquid ingredients, although individually are not harmful, have not actually been tested together and in new chemical forms before.
Before the advent of the e-cigarette, a nicotine patch and gum was used to tone down smoking, and eventually stop the habit, as part of the Nicotine Replacement Therapy. These alternatives to smoking have already been tested multiple times with proven positive results. E-cigarettes, although many manufacturers swear that they are safe, have not been tested yet. The World Health Organization has often stated that e-cigarettes, like traditional ones, have not been approved for safety and health. Apparently, users of e-cigarettes can never be too sure of their safety.
Explosions and Accidents
Since e-cigarettes use chemicals liquids, there is a strong possibility of explosion and a fire from defective e-cigarettes. Just last April of 2014, a young bartender’ dress caught fire when a customer’s e-cigarette exploded. On June 2013, a man plugged his e-cig into his laptop to charge, when it exploded, burning with it his laptop, and part of his room. Another man in Texas in July 2013 charged his e-cig in his Macbook, when it exploded. He suffered second- and third-degree burns. These accidents are not even a fourth of the number of explosions involving e-cigarettes.
Mouth and throat inflammation and vomiting are side effects of use of faulty e-cigarettes. Also, an e-liquid from an e-cigarette cartridge can cause skin irritation or poisoning if accidentally ingested. This poses a great risk specifically to households with small children.
In fact, poison control centers have received numerous calls from parents regarding poisoning from e-cigarettes. From September 2010 to February 2014, the percentage of poisoning increased drastically from 0.3% to 41.7%, with more than half of the victims being young children.
What makes health institutes wary of electronic cigarettes is the lack of results and substantial data. Since there are so many e-cigarette manufacturers now with varying flavors and ingredients that WHO is having a hard time gathering substantial and relevant data on whether e-cigarettes can really endanger people’s health. Users need to be aware that even after many years, e-cigarettes are still a new invention, and using one carries some risk.