Chemicals in Vaping Flavors Cause Widespread Damage to Lung Tissue

New research has been published in the journal Scientific Reports. The article explains the chemical list of flavored e-liquids and pods used in vaping. It also exposes their adverse effects on lung tissue, which includes an increase in inflammation and genetic damage which could suggest a long-term risk of developing respiratory disease or even cancer.” While names like mango, cucumber, and mint give the impression that the flavors in e-juices are benign, the reality is that these sensations are derived from chemicals,“These findings indicate that exposure to these chemicals triggers damage and lung dysfunction that are a precursor to long-term health consequences.”

Other than propylene glycol and Glycerin, which are the basis of vaping liquids and nicotine, most manufacturers do not disclose the chemical ingredients responsible for the flavorings in their vaping products.

Using mass spectrometry, researchers discovered more than 40 distinct chemicals present in seven flavors produced by JUUL. This includes hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds used in industrial processes and considered hazardous if breathed in.

JUUL is responsible for over 70 percent of all sales of vaping products within the U.S. – it has recently ended sales of many of its flavored pods. In addition, some states, such as New York, are in the process of banning these items. However, other vape companies and independent shops continue to make and sell around 88,000 different flavors of e-juices and pods.

The study scientists were exposed to human lung tissue, including epithelial bronchial cells, which play a crucial role in gas exchange, and monocytes, a fighting cell of the immune system in the immune system – to vaporize aerosols from flavors pods. They found that the chemicals created inflammation and weakened the strength of epithelial cells, which is a condition that could lead to acute lung injury as well as respiratory disease. Exposure also damages DNA inside the cells, which could cause cancer. The study found that the menthol flavor that JUUL continues to market is just the same as other flavors.

“Vaping technology has only existed for a short period of time and its use, particularly among younger people, has only recently exploded,” said Rahman. “This study gives further evidence that vaping – while less harmful than combustible tobacco in the short run – is placing chronic users on the path to significant health problems later in life.”

Rahman is the director of the WNY Center of Research in Flavored Tobacco Products (CRoFT), A partnership with researchers from URMC and Roswell Park’s Comprehensive Cancer Center located in Buffalo to research the health implications of one of the most rapidly growing patterns of tobacco use. The center is financed by a one-year grant of $19 million from the Food and Drug Administration’s Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science program.

The Scientific Reports study co-authors are Thivanka Muthumalage, Thomas Lamb with URMC, and Michelle Friedman from the College of Brockport, State University of New York. The research was funded with assistance from The National Cancer Institute and CRoFT.

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