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An Unrecognized Hazard in E-Cigarette Vapor: Preliminary Quantification of Methylglyoxal Formation from Propylene Glycol in E-Cigarettes.

Authors
  • Azimi, Parham1
  • Keshavarz, Zahra1
  • Lahaie Luna, Marianne1, 2
  • Cedeno Laurent, Jose Guillermo1
  • Vallarino, Jose1
  • Christiani, David C1
  • Allen, Joseph G1
  • 1 Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
  • 2 Occupational & Environmental Health Division, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5T 3M7, Canada. , (Canada)
Type
Published Article
Journal
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publisher
MDPI AG
Publication Date
Jan 06, 2021
Volume
18
Issue
2
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18020385
PMID: 33419122
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Up to 95% of the liquid volume in an e-cigarette consists of propylene glycol. Previous research has shown that propylene glycol can generate diacetyl and formaldehyde when heated. New research shows that propylene glycol can also generate methylglyoxal, an alpha di-carbonyl compound recently shown to cause epithelial necrosis at even lower concentrations than diacetyl, the flavoring chemical associated with bronchiolitis obliterans ("Popcorn Lung"). We analyzed chemical emissions from 13 JUUL pod flavors. Diacetyl and methylglyoxal was detected in 100% of samples with median concentration (range) of 20 µg/m3 (less than limit of quantification: 54 µg/m3) and 4219 µg/m3 (677-15,342 µg/m3), respectively. We also detected acetaldehyde (median concentration: 341 µg/m3) and propionaldehyde (median concentration: 87 µg/m3) in all samples. The recent evidence that methylglyoxal is more cytotoxic to airway epithelial cells than diacetyl makes this an urgent public health concern. Current smokers considering e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool, and never users, who may be under the impression that e-cigarettes are harmless, need information on emissions and potential risks to make informed decisions.

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