E-Cigarette Second-Hand Smoke Still Toxic

Although the second-hand smoke from e-cigarettes contains far lower levels of toxins than that of regular cigarettes, it is still considered toxic, according to a new study.

In order to better understand the differences between second-hand smoke from regular and e-cigarettes, researchers gathered indoor air particle samples as participants smoked in the room.

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Despite a reported 10-fold decrease in the overall levels of carcinogenic particulate matter, especially in organic carcinogens, researchers observed increased levels of toxic metals such as nickel (at levels 4 times greater than in regular cigarettes) and chromium (not found in traditional cigarette smoke) in the second-hand smoke of e-cigarettes, likely coming from the cartridges of the device itself.

“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,” researchers wrote.

It is possible, they suggested, that simply improving manufacturing standards for e-cigarettes could significantly reduce the amount of toxins in the smoke.

The complete study is published in the August issue of Environmental Science Processes and Impacts.


Saffari A, Daher N, Ruprecht A, et al. Particulate metals and organic compounds from electronic and tobacco-containing cigarettes: comparison of emission rates and secondhand exposure. Env. Sci. Process. Impact. 2014 August [epub ahead of print] doi: 10.1039/C4EM00415A.

University of Southern California. Second-hand e-cigarette smoke: healthier than regular cigarette smoke, but still contains some toxic elements. August 28, 2014. Accessed September 6, 2014.