Drugs & Health Blog

E-Cigarettes: Inhaling More Than You Bargained For

©Shutterstock/Bjoern Wylezich

The NIDA Blog Team

You’ve heard before on this blog that we need to learn a lot more about e-cigarettes. Now we’ve learned they’re even more dangerous than we thought. Scientists recently discovered that teens are inhaling at least five toxic (poisonous) cancer-causing compounds when they vape. Many of these compounds are also found in tobacco cigarettes.

Inhaling harm

Makers of e-cigarettes add flavoring chemicals and compounds that can be inhaled when a person vapes, or that break down into harmful chemicals during vaping. Here are just a few of the toxic compounds the recent study found in e-cigarettes or e-cig flavoring:

  • Acrylonitrile is used to make plastics and adhesives. It’s extremely poisonous in large doses.
  • Propylene oxide can irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract, and depress the central nervous system.
  • Crotonaldehyde is a poisonous and highly flammable liquid with a suffocating odor.
  • Acrylamide is used in treating wastewater, including sewage. It may increase the risk for several types of cancer.

These chemicals are found in small amounts in e-cigs, so we aren’t sure yet how much you’d need to inhale to be in danger.

A long list

Earlier studies found other dangerous things in e-cigs, including formaldehyde, a gas that’s been linked to cancer; diacetyl, a chemical that can harm the lungs; plus many others.

Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. In liquid form (as in e-cigarettes), nicotine can be dangerous to drink, sniff, or even touch. And there are even more reasons e-cigs can be dangerous for your health.

So, don’t fall for the hype: E-cigarettes might not always be safer than tobacco. Check the facts, so you can make an informed choice about what you put into your body.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.

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