Australian study shows the need to regulate vaping products
Posted on January 14, 2019
An Australian study published today highlights the importance of regulating vaping e-liquids in Australia.
The study in the Medical Journal of Australia analysed ten 'nicotine-free' e-liquids and found six to be contaminated with trace amounts of nicotine. The nicotine levels averaged <0.1% across the ten samples, with the highest being 0.29% nicotine.
Poor quality control
Although harmless on this occasion, the contamination by nicotine indicates poor quality control and production standards, as expected in an unregulated black market. These e-liquid solutions could have been mixed in someone's kitchen sink with the same utensils used to make nicotine e-liquid, without any care or expertise.
The findings supports ATHRA's recommendation for e-liquid to be legalised and regulated so that quality and safety standards can be enforced
The study authors state that the nicotine found has 'important implications for addiction and health'. Nicotine levels were 0%, 0%, 0%, 0%, 0.05%, 0.05%, 0.09%, 0.13%, 0.14%, 0.29%.
ATHRA disagrees with this assessment. Smokers and vapers are used to much higher nicotine levels. The average nicotine concentration used by vapers is around 1.2%, although commercial products can be as strong as 5.9%. In our view:
These levels are trivial and unlikely to have any significant biological or harmful health effects
The 0.29% nicotine level found in one sample may have a minor effect at large volumes, for example a raised heart rate, but that would be unlikely to be of any health importance.
The study also reported the presence of a number of other chemicals. The only known 'toxin' was 2-chlorophenol, which can irritate the lungs and skin.
Merely finding a chemical in the liquid is not necessarily a concern. The toxicity of any chemical depends on the dose and the level at which it becomes toxic. The dose of 2-chlorophenol was not measured in this study and there is no recognised safety limit for the chemical.
Other studies have found that the doses of chemicals in vapour are very low and are generally below the levels regarded as unsafe for occupational exposure.
Any assessment of risk from low dose contaminants in vapour should always be compared to the far higher risk from the toxins in tobacco smoke. Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals and toxins including 70 known carcinogens. Most of these are absent from vapour and those that are present are at much lower levels.
Posted by Colin Mendelsohn, firstname.lastname@example.org