As vapes and e-cigarettes are becoming more widely smoked, greater focus has been placed on the ingredients used to make them and whether they pose a health risk.
So, what chemicals are in vapes exactly? In this guide, we take a comprehensive look. We examine whether these chemicals are harmful, and explore the different types found in brands like Hyde, Breeze and disposable vapes, which are perhaps the most popular of all.
Here at Triton Sensors we understand the potential health risks that vapes can have, especially when smoked in public places.
If you need any help or support with vape alarm systems, reach out to us for free today by calling the number above, or click here to contact us in writing.
Vapes have been around a lot longer than many people think. In fact, the first e-cigarette was introduced to the public in 2003 in China, an invention by a pharmacist named Hon Lik.
However, as greater regulation strangled the traditional cigarette smoking market and the health implications became more widely known, vapes emerged as an alternative means of quitting smoking.
Since that emergence in the early 2010s, a vast range of products has sprung up, offering different flavors and designs. This rapid development in the e-cigarette market has almost outpaced regulation.
In the US, the key regulator of the electronic cigarette is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It gained authority over e-cigarettes in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act 2009. The agency regulates everything from product marketing to manufacturing standards.
Another key body overseeing e-cigarettes and one relating to the chemicals found in vapes is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s their job to investigate and monitor health issues among e-cigarette users to determine if they’re caused by vapes, especially lung injuries or illnesses, some of which have been reported in the media not long ago.
Overall, it’s the job of these bodies to minimize the public health consequences posed by tobacco products, all the while minimizing nicotine addiction and promoting smoking cessation. Electronic cigarettes will remain a hot topic of research.
Below, we review some of the leading studies on e-cigarette liquids and nicotine exposure to date.
Vaping is seen as a safer alternative to smoking. However, the vapor that these e-cigarettes produce isn’t just made up of water vapor, but a mix of potentially harmful chemicals. Here’s a breakdown:
- Nicotine – one of the most common ingredients and chemicals in vapes is nicotine. This is also a key element of smoking traditional cigarettes, which is an addictive substance. The Centre For Disease Control has also stated that nicotine can harm a developing adolescent brain. In particular, it can affect mood, impulsive behaviors, learning and attention span. It’s why many schools have sought to introduce sensors such as our own, as well as nicotine detectors.
- Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerin (VG) – like nicotine, PG and VG are also common ingredients in e-cigarettes and vaping devices. It’s considered safe to ingest, however, inhalation of high levels of PG, especially over an extended period of time, may cause respiratory irritation.
- Flavoring Chemicals – vapes now come in a wide range of flavors and to achieve these mixtures, manufacturers use a range of chemicals. Whether these chemicals are safe is an area of ongoing research, especially when they’re heated and inhaled.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – these compounds are also found in cigarette smoke, but with vapes they’re generally at a lower level. However, they do still pose adverse health effects.
- Metals – some studies into vapes have found trace amounts of metals like lead. These compounds aren’t used directly in the vape liquid but rather are part of the device itself, often in the heating coils. Cheaper and poorer-quality vape devices are more likely to see these issues.
- Acrolein and Formaldehyde – these compounds are also found in tobacco cigarette smoke and again, like VOCs, are also present in vapes, just at a much lower level. Ingesting them is still known to cause harm.
While this list isn’t exhaustive it covers the significant majority of chemicals found in vapes, as well as tobacco smoke. All of them pose a health hazard and risk of lung disease, especially when consumed in high quantities.
We mentioned volatile organic compounds before and it’s worth explaining them in more detail here.
These chemicals are often used in industrial processes and household products. Prolonged exposure to them can cause respiratory issues, and it’s why VOCs are heavily regulated.
VOCs can be present in vapes when the heating of the liquid creates aerosols. They can produce formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein which are all dangerous chemicals.
Let’s dive deeper and take a look at the chemicals used in specific brands of vapes.
To get a clearer idea of the chemicals used in vapes, it can help to take a look at some real examples as case studies.
There isn’t much guidance available on Hyde’s own website about the ingredients it uses in its disposable vapes. Research, however, has been conducted into the products and the ingredients used in them. We also know from the packaging and adverts that some Hyde vape products, like the Hyde X Disposable, offer a 5% level of nicotine content.
Hyde Vapes are known to use synthetic nicotine in their products, which a number of manufacturers have turned to because of weaker regulations. This sees them market products as “tobacco free” or even “healthier”. However, as mentioned above, nicotine in any form is harmful to developing brains.
Like Hyde Vapes, Breeze is also a very popular brand. It’s popularity no doubt stems from the wide range of flavors that it offers, from lemon cookies to watermelon and pineapple. These enticing flavorings are aimed to lure people into trying them. And with their disposable nature, they’re very easy to buy and try.
To get these unique flavors, Breeze also uses synthetic nicotine. Breeze also offers more information on its website, and notes in its Disclaimer Policy that the products it sells are not evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It does not state on its site the ingredients used.
As well as the two main brands discussed above, there are a wide range of disposable vapes that offer myriad flavors. Many of these products use synthetic nicotine. The percentage level of nicotine in products sold can range from anywhere from 1% to 5% or more.
It’s always important to read the packaging and look for clear guidance on what it is you’re consuming.
Though we’ve covered a lot of different chemicals so far, studies, such as that conducted by Herrington and Myers in 2015 have found around 60 to 70 different compounds in vape liquid.
Other studies have found a massive 113 different chemicals in 50 brands of vapes. What scientists have found is that the vaporization process can create aerosols and therefore additional compounds. In fact, Herrington and Myers found 18 additional compounds produced by the heating process.
A number of these chemical compounds are described as ultrafine particles which have known carcinogenic properties.
Some of these aerosol compounds include carbonyl, tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) and silicates.
Further research also needs to be conducted into the unique flavors on offer. According to one study in 2014 by Zhu et al, there are more than 7,000 flavors to choose from. One of the issues, however, is that flavoring substances are often not included in lists of ingredients. The concern is that these chemicals used could have toxic effects when heated.
For example, one common chemical used to make sweet vape liquids is saccharides. Some studies have found that this can degrade when heated, producing a compound called aldehydes which can cause irritation to the throat.
- A range of chemicals are used in e-cigarettes and vapes, sometimes as many as 60 or 70
- The most common chemical is nicotine. Some studies have found that nicotine can impact developing brains.
- Other chemicals found in vapes can cause respiratory irritation. In rare cases, metal compounds like lead can form part of the vapor produced by devices.
- Brands like Hyde Vapes and Breeze use synthetic nicotine to bypass tighter regulations. Some products are not evaluated by the FDA.
At Triton Sensors, we understand the need to keep public spaces safe for everyone. It’s what motivated us to create smart sensors to detect vapor from e-cigarettes. Now, hundreds of venues and schools use our devices.
If you’d like to try one of our sensors, you can order a free demo unit here. We also offer free quotations and consultations too.
To speak with us today, call us on the number at the top of this page or write to us here.