10 Harmful Chemicals in Vapor That May Kill You

Vapor or also known as E-cigaretter is a device which is deisgned to imitate how regular cigarette works or simply can be called as nicotine inhaler. It delivers nicotine without combusting tobacco or other toxicants. It becomes a hit for the people around the world. Its fancy usage and also taste capture many people. Although does not contain tobacco just like cigarette, but does it consider healthy?

However, little toxicity testing had been held to analyze the chemical nature from e-cigarette.

The vapor users spike

Vapor is known as cigarette replacement, it was created for someone who wants to quit smoking addiction. Hence, most e-cigarette users are ex smokers. This device contains a fluid which is inhaled by the users, the sensation created just like someone who smokes tobacco, inhale then exhale the smoke.

A data gathered by National Center for Health Statistics of America shows that vapor is most popular among young adults in ages between 18 to 24 years-old in America. This increases as vapor has modified its device’s shapes and taste.

However, National Health Interview Survey and other health centers gathered a data which shows that vapor may arise its user’s health issues.

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The harmful chemicals in Vapor

Recent study conducted by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that propylene glycol (eyes and respiratory irritant) and vegetable glycerin (skin, eye and respiratory irritant) were found in e-cigarette. Propylene glycol (PG) is an organic chemical compound which has been proved by FDA. Commonly, it is used to create artificial smoke in theatre, also skin and other personal care products and also vapor.

Vegetable glycerin (VG) is produced from vegetable plant oils and can be considered as 100% natural. Some vapor companies combine VG and PG to create more enjoyable experience to inhale vapor.

However, According to Federal Health Officials, those two chemicals are known as the trigger cause of cancer. The two chemicals and other chemicals are used in vapor to create artificial smoke. While the chemicals are heated inside vapor, toxic chemicals such as acrolein and formaldehyde are released.

Moreover, the FDA had warned, in 2009, that vapor contains diethylene glycol. It is a chemical ingredient which is used in antifreeze. And in 2005, a study revealed that aerosols in e-cigarette contain formaldehyde, which is another carcinogen.

Currently, a study revealed that the amount of released harmful chemicals are also depend on the temperature inside e-cigarette. Thus, the voltage does influence how much toxic are produced by e-cigarette.

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The Voltage matters

Currently, some studies held to analyze the harm effect of using vapor. According to a new research conducted by Environmental Science and Technology, the level of harmful chemicals in every vapor might vary. Furthermore, a research conducted by researchers in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory stimulated two vapors at different battery power settings.

The study found that the amount of chemical released varied, which is based on the temperature inside the heating coil in the device. Hence, the higher temperature inside e-cigarette’s heating coil, the device would release more toxic chemicals.

A vapor which is operated at 3.8 volts had found to emit 0,46 micrograms of acrolein per puff in the first five puffs. Meanwhile, another vapor is operated at higher temperature had showed to emit much more than 8.7 micrograms of acrolein. For your information, the amount of released acrolein is much less than regular cigarette with tobacco, it normally delivers 400 to 500 micrograms of acrolein. Acrolein itself is a chemical ingredient which used as a severe eye and respiratory irritant.

This experiment simply said that tobacco cigarettes are unhealthy but e-cigarettes are just not unhealthy too.

Other Harmful Chemicals in E-Cigarette

Here is the amount of chemicals contained in e-cigarette according to a test conducted by Professor Glantz which compare the exposure to these chemicals for daily carcinogen intake rather than intake from one cartridge between nicotine inhaler and e-cigarette. (a typical nicotine inhaler user will go for about 16 nicotine inhaler)



inhaler ratio
Formaldehyde  28.2 2.0 14
Acetaldehyde  7.4 1.1 7
Acrolein 11.5 ND
omethylbenzyne 3.9 0.7 6
Toluene 0.8 ND
p,mxylene 0.1 ND
NNN 1.5 ND
NNK 6.6 ND
Cadmium 0.09 0.03 3
Cadmium 0.09 0.03 3
Nickel 0.19 0.19 1
Lead 0.09 0.04


ND=not detected

From that comparison, Dr. Glantz reported that up to six carcinogens is higher for use of a nicotine inhaler rather than electronic cigarettes. But the chemicals contained in e-cigarette still shall make the users wory.

Morover, California’s landmark Proposition 65 is the safe drinking water and toxic enforcement act of 1986. Proposition 65 requires the government to annually published list of harmful chemicals which can cause cancer and reproductive toxicity.

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According to Proposition 65, beside glycol and glycerin, here are lists of harmful chemicals in vapor or e-cigarette:

  1. Acetaldehyde (MS)

Acetaldehyde is the air pollution for either outdoor or indoor. This is a toxic aldehydes which presents in cigarette smoke. Acetaldehyde can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and also noncancerous pulmonary disease.

  1. Added Flavouring

Flavouring is one of the attraction of e-cigarette. Commonly the flavour of e-liquid for vapor is made with FDA approved. Some of flavorings used are acetylpyrazine, beta-ionone, dimethylphyrazine, rose oil, vanillin, and others.

However, if those artificial flavourings are consumed in a long period of time, it will cause addictive, can cause dizziness, chest pain, headaches, nausea, allergic reaction, kidney and brain damage and increase the risk of cancer.

  1. Cadmium (MS)

Cadmium is an extreme toxic chemical which is usually found in industrial workplaces. This chemical material is also found in painting products and can represent a hazard when it is sprayed, hence it should be handle with care. The diseases which are associated to cadium are severe osteoporosis and osteomalacia, kidney failure, progressive renal tubular dysfunction, lung cancer, bronchitis, and others.

  1. Formaldehyde (MS,SS)

Formaldehyde is with the chemical compound formula as H-CHO (CH2O). The formaldehyde in vapor is produced from PG (propylene glycol) and VP (vegetable glycerin) thermally degrading, and PG as the main culprid. Another study found that formaldehyde also comes from flavouring.

Formaldehyde in vapor can cause cancer at level more than 15 times higher than regular cigarettes. When the e-cigarette is operated in higher voltage, it will produce large amount of chemical compound including formaldehyde. Another causes which is triggered by this chemical are asthma, nausea, and dangerous negative health impact for pregnant women. So, that’s the chemicals in vapor.

  1. Isoprene (SS)

Isoprene or 2-methyl-1,3-butadiene is a chemical compound with formula CH2=C(CH3)−CH=CH2. It is a colourless liquid and produced in many plants. Furthermore, isoprene can cause burning sensation when healed, cough, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, sore pain, abdominal pain, redness and pain on skin and eyes.

  1. Nickel (MS)

Nickel is metallic chemical element with symbol Ni and atomic number 28. Currently, the researchers found some metals in e-cigarette liquid. The research put the vapor liquid to a test for its metal levels in micrograms per liter. It revealed that there are five metals including cadimum, chromium, lead, mnganese and nickel in some brands of liquid e-cigarette. Nickel is considered as the most serious carcinogen when it is inhaled. Hence, it is a harmful ingredients.

Furthermore, the exposure of nickel can be toxic for environment and also can cause lung cancer, cardiovascular, neurological deficits, and high blood pressure.

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  1. Lead (MS)

Lead is a metallic chemical element with symbol Pb (plumbum) and atomic number 82. Lead is included into harmful metal which has been found in vapor as mentioned in point 6. Furthermore, the exposure of lead can cause abdominal pain, constipated, tired, headache, irritable, loss of appetite and memory and getting weak

  1. Nicotine (MS, SS)

Although nicotine has a bad rap, this nitrogen-containing chemical does not cause cancer like the other chemicals in vapor. Similar to caffeine, nicotine can be found naturally in tobacco leaves, tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes and so many more plants. However, not all vapor contains nicotine, it can be customized by the user based on their personal preference on how much they want to put it in their vapor.

  1. N-Nitrosonornicotine (MS, SS)

N-nitrosonornicotine (NNN) is a tobacco mitrosamine which is produced during the processing of tobacco. This is classified as carcinogen, it means any exposure of this chemical can cause cancer and also has been proven to cause esophageal and nasal cancer in animals (there is not adequate research that it can cause cancer for human). The symptoms of using N-nitrosonornicotine are irritation, nausea, vomiting, sleep disturbance, headache and chest pain.

  1. Toluene (MS, SS)

Toluene is also known as toluol. This chemical can damage the brain, respiratory problems, nausea, damage pregnancy, blood cancer and hearing loss.

Cautions of Vapor

Vapor or e-cigarette is not less healthy than normal cigarette. E-cigarette contains hazardous chemicals and also sovents and vehicles that should not be inhaled by people. Do not use high-voltage while using vapor. This prevent the increase amount of formaldehyde-containing compound which can raise the risk of cancer 15 times higher than risk of long-term smoking. However, according to FDA-approved, the recommended voltage setting is at 3.7 volts. Meanwhile, that’s lists of harmful chemicals in vapor.