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Carbonyls and Carbon Monoxide Emissions from Electronic Cigarettes Affected by Device Type and Use

Yeongkwon Son, Chiranjivi Bhattarai, Vera Samburova, Andrey Khlystov

Int J Environ Res Public Health

Dangerous levels of harmful chemicals in electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) aerosols were reported by several studies, but variability in e-cigarette design and use patterns, and a rapid development of new devices, such as JUUL, hamper efforts to develop standardized testing protocols and understand health risks associated with e-cigarette use. In this study, we investigated the relative importance of e-cigarette design, power output, liquid composition, puff topography on e-cigarette emissions of carbonyl compounds, carbon monoxide (CO), and nicotine. Four popular e-cigarette devices representing the most common e-cigarette types (e.g., cig-a-like, top-coil, ‘mod’, and ‘pod’) were tested. Under the tested vaping conditions, a top-coil device generated the highest amounts of formaldehyde and CO. A ‘pod’ type device (i.e., JUUL) emitted the highest amounts of nicotine, while generating the lowest levels of carbonyl and CO as compared to other tested e-cigarettes. Emissions increased nearly linearly with puff duration, while puff flow had a relatively small effect. Flavored e-liquids generated more carbonyls and CO than unflavored liquids. Carbonyl concentrations and CO in e-cigarette aerosols were found to be well correlated. While e-cigarettes emitted generally less CO and carbonyls than conventional cigarettes, daily carbonyl exposures from e-cigarette use could still exceed acute exposure limits, with the top-coil device potentially posing more harm than conventional cigarettes.

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