High-voltage e-cigarettes might expose users to increased levels of toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, according to research led by Maciej Goniewicz, Ph.D., Pharm.D., a researcher in the Department of Health Behavior at the U.S.’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI).
The study was published online by Nicotine and Tobacco Research.
Some e-cigarettes allow the user to change the voltage of the device to increase vapor production and nicotine delivery; so Goniewicz and colleagues examined the various chemicals in vapors generated from the same e-cigarette but at variable voltages.
They found that when an e-cigarette was operated at lower voltage, the vapors generated contained only traces of some toxic chemicals.
These compounds included formaldehyde, a known carcinogen; acetaldehyde, which is considered a possible carcinogen to humans; and two chemicals known to irritate nasal, lung and/or mucous tissues, acrolein and acetone.
But when the voltage was increased, the levels of toxicants increased significantly.
“These results suggest that some types of e-cigarettes might expose their users to the same or even higher levels of carcinogenic formaldehyde than [does] tobacco smoke,” said Goniewicz.
“Users of high-voltage e-cigarettes need to be warned about this increased risk of harmful effects.”