Why Homeowners Should Be Aware of Electronic Cigarettes When Controlling Indoor Air Quality
It’s well known that smoking tobacco indoors pollutes a home’s air supply with numerous chemicals and carcinogens. What about the new trend of vaping electronic cigarettes that’s touted as a less hazardous alternative? If you’re concerned about air quality in your home, it’s important to know what’s in the vapor produced by e-cigarettes, and the possible effect vaping has on IAQ.
Electronic Cigarette Basics
E-cigarettes are designed to look a lot like the real thing, but instead of a filtered tube of tobacco, these look-alikes consist of a battery that warms a liquid-filled cartridge to create inhalable vapor. The liquid consists of water and other relatively benign ingredients like vegetable glycerin and flavorings. However, it can also contain:
- Propylene glycol. This chemical is commonly used in antifreeze and deemed “generally recognized as safe” for human consumption by the FDA
- Nicotine. This is the same addictive drug found in tobacco and linked to heart disease.
- Formaldehyde. When inhaled, this highly toxic systemic poison and known carcinogen can cause severe respiratory tract irritation and suffocation.
- Silicate particles. Inhalation can cause silicosis, or scarring of the lungs, which reduces the organs’ ability to take in oxygen.
Vaping and Indoor Air Quality
There have been a limited number of studies done regarding vaping electronic cigarettes’ potential effects on IAQ, and results are mixed.
- A 2012 study came to the conclusion that vaping resulted in minimal exposure to chemicals and posed no health risk.
- Another study done in 2015 on air quality where people vaped concluded that bystanders were exposed to chemical levels lower than the accepted standards for workplace and general air quality.
- A more recent 2017 study on airborne particles at a vaping convention showed that vaping produces a substantial amount of air pollution.
The best way to relieve concerns you have about the adverse effects of electronic cigarette vapor and other pollutants on your home’s air quality is to take measures to improve it — such as installing a whole-house air purifier.
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