VaporTrek Blog

Collaborated Study Alludes to Vape Liquid Create Irritants

October 19, 2018 Industry Highlights

A study from the Duke University of Medicine that was released yesterday (Oct. 18, 2018) stating the mixing of certain flavors causes chemical changes that can make them irritants. I first saw this study from CNN and then I saw more in depth look at this study from Science Daily. Both have their flaws and misconceptions. Chemical Flavorings in E-Cigarette Liquid This study was a collaboration between Duke University of Medicine and Yale Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science. They used flavor chemicals found in vanilla, cherry, and cinnamon e-liquid to see how they mix with polypropylene glycol and glycerol. They say that mixing these creates compounds called acetals. The main flavor aldehydes they researched are; benzaldehyde, cinnamaldehyde, citral, ethylvanillin, and vanillin. I’ve linked their wiki pages to them as well if you want to follow along. This it going to be a little technical. Chemical Compound Creation from Mixing Vape Juice Ingredients This study makes the argument that the flavor aldehydes rapidly reacted with the e-liquid solvent propylene glycol. They state it as a matter of fact but I remain skeptical. Reason being: These flavor aldehydes they talk about are non-reactive compounds. Meaning, even under extreme circumstances, they are not going to react to the environment they are put in. Vanillin and cinnamaldehyde both have zero reactivity to them. Benzaldehyde has very little reactivity to it. Citral is slightly flammable but non-reactive overall. Ethylvanillin is the only compound out of the bunch that is considered an irritant. So, one out of the five compounds you tested for are considered an irritant. How can you justify 4 other compounds, having little to no reactivity to them, as being “rapidly reacted” to polypropylene glycol? It doesn’t make much sense. Very Small Percentage The study also states, “upward of 40% of flavor aldehyde content was converted to flavor aldehyde PG acetals. Aldehyde PG acetals is a very obscure term, rarely used before this study. Now, 40% sounds like a large number. What they fail to point out is that that 40% is coming from the flavor additive. The e-liquid they tested contained between 0.8 to 2.5 percent flavoring. That means 40% of that 0.8% to 2.5% flavoring in that e-liquid reacted the way they observed. That’s a pretty small number. So, It’s not insignificant but also not a scientific breakthrough. Their Conclusion and Implications They prefaced and ended the study with talk about the rise of e-cig popularity among teen and young adults. This leads me to believe they are a little bias towards a specific degree of thinking. Nevertheless, they still go out of their way to comment about things that just don’t make sense. So, in their brief of the study, under “Implications” they state e-cigarette liquids can be chemically unstable with reactions occurring between flavorant and solvent components immediately after mixing at room temperature. If a compound is not reactive, how can you say with a straight face they are chemically unstable? Baker White is the Exception to this Study They state in the article that these e-liquid are on the market without proper ingredient listings. Baker White was chosen as our premiere e-liquid vendor because of studies like this. Baker White uses the same machines to test their liquids as used in this study such as the gas chromatography machine. They test all of their e-liquid for potential hazards and chemicals. Anything that isn’t up to snuff WILL NOT be packaged or sold. The chemist at Baker White puts it bluntly when asked about this article, “Baker White tests for acetals (also known as diketones) for every batch and works tirelessly to prevent them from being in our e-liquid. There’s a reason they are not present on our ingredients list.” Final Thoughts Overall, this study, and the news articles that reported on it, are biased and uneducated on the facts and how these chemicals react to one another. There is limited evidence to back up the claims they are making. This study made very broad claims, covered their back side by using general terminology like, “can be” or “possibility of” to draw their conclusions. They also talk a lot about teenage vaping in a study completely unrelated to that statement. Giving off the impression that they definitely went into this study with a bias and wanted a certain outcome to appear. Even as I write this, article are popping up everywhere talking about this study. Hopefully, like most of these studies, it will die out quick and not cause a huge ripple in the public perception of vaping.
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