E-cigarettes produce cleaner second hand “smoke” than traditional cigarettes but still release toxins into the air, according to a study.
Scientists discovered an overall 10-fold decrease in exposure to harmful particles, with close-to-zero exposure to organic carcinogens.
However, levels of exposure to some harmful metals in second-hand e-cigarette smoke were found to be significantly higher.
Cancer-causing organic compounds found in tobacco smoke were reduced to almost zero in second-hand e-cigarette smoke because they do not burn organic material the way cigarettes do.
Despite the lack of harmful organic material and a decrease in the majority of toxic metals emissions, e-cigarette smoke contains the toxic element chromium, absent from traditional cigarettes, as well as nickel at levels four times higher than normal cigarettes.
Several other toxic metals such as lead and zinc were also found in second-hand e-cigarette smoke in concentrations lower than for normal cigarettes.
“Our results demonstrate that overall electronic cigarettes seem to be less harmful than regular cigarettes, but their elevated content of toxic metals such as nickel and chromium do raise concerns,” said Constantinos Sioutas, professor at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering.
The metal particles likely come from the cartridge of the e-cigarette devices themselves.
The researchers compared the smoke from a common cigarette brand with smoke from an Elips Serie C e-cigarette, one of the most popular European brands.
The study is published in the Journal of Environmental Science, Processes and Impacts.
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