SECONDHAND EXPOSURE TO E-CIGARETTES EMISSIONS
Esteve Fernández. Tobacco Control Unit, Catalan Institute of Oncology
One of the open concerns about electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or, in general, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) is their potential harm and toxicity to non-users exposed to the emissions exhaled to the environment by the e-cigarettes users, particularly in small confined places. In this presentation, we review available data from exposure to emissions of e-cigarettes and present data from on-going studies of particulate matter and nicotine emissions from e-cigarettes in confined spaces.
The vapor produced by electronic cigarettes contains nicotine and some toxics in small quantities and significant lower concentrations than those present in smoke from conventional cigarettes. Three studies in controlled environments showed low levels of fine particles, although in one study the concentration was slightly higher than recommended by the WHO guideline for outdoor spaces. The respirable suspended particles in the emissions produced by e-cigarettes are comparable to smoke from burning conventional tobacco. E-cigarettes emissions and tobacco smoke contain particulate matter ≤2.5 µm (PM2.5) and PM ≤1 µm (PM1.0).
We report data from homes of e-cigarette users and experiments in one car while using an e-cigarette, and the corresponding controls. Particulate matter and nicotine concentrations were measured in the air, as well as salivary cotinine concentrations in non-smokers exposed to e-cigarettes emissions.
At homes, airborne nicotine concentration was 0.11 μg/m3 in the e-cigarettes users’ homes and 0.01 μg/m3 in the smoke-free homes. The PM2.5 median concentration was 9.88 μg/m3 in the e-cigarette user’s home and 9.53 μg/m3 and 9.36 μg/m3 in the smoke-free homes. Salivary cotinine concentrations of the non-smokers exposed to e-cigarettes emissions or vapor at home were higher than concentrations in non-smokers living in smoke-free homes.
In the experiments measuring nicotine with the car stopped the median nicotine concentrations were 1.00 μg/m3 (e-cigarette) and 0.01 μg/m3 (control). With the car in movement, and the car windows open, the median concentration was 0.09 μg/m3 (e-cigarette) and 0.01 μg/m3 (control). Regarding PM2.5, with the car stopped, PM2.5 concentration was 22.9 μg/m3 (e-cigarette) and 3.6 μg/m3 (control). With the car in movement, the median concentrations of PM2.5 were 20.3 μg/m3 (e-cigarette) and 10.4 μg/m3 (control).
In confined spaces such as homes and cars, the concentration of particulate matter and nicotine from the emissions or vapour generated by e-cigarettes users are significantly higher than those measured in the absence of e-cigarettes users.
Esteve Fernández, MD, MPH, PhD, is the Director of the Tobacco Control Unit of the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) and Biomedical Research Institute of Bellvitge (IDIBELL) in Barcelona. Fernandez is Associate Professor of epidemiology and public health at the School of Medicine (Universitat de Barcelona) and President-elect of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology. His main area of research is tobacco control, including secondhand smoke and e-cigarettes. He is also interested in socioeconomic and gender determinants of health, with focus on cancer and smoking, and in journalology. He has authored more than 200 papers in peer reviewed journals.