In 2014, Igor Burstyn was emphatic in his study ‘Peering Through The Mist’ that e-cigarette vapour presents a negligible risk to third parties due to “the constituents, their toxicity and exposure times.” Studies created to counter this have all relied on false scenarios involving dry-burning puffing machines, saturating cell cultures or overdosing rodents.
A team including the members of Pritchard’s study group mapped out a more realistic approach to Modelling Potential Bystander Exposures. In it they note: “there is currently a debate on whether the aerosol exhaled following the use of e-cigarettes has implications for the quality of air breathed by bystanders.” The procedure they designed was “a simplified model, based on physical principles, which considers aerosol propagation, dilution and extraction to determine the potential contribution of a single puff from an e-cigarette to indoor air. From this, it was then possible to simulate the cumulative effect of vaping over time.”
The team concluded: “The model appears to perform well when compared to published experimental values for nicotine in the indoor ambient air following generation and release of an e-cigarette aerosol.” This set the ground for the following research paper.
An Assessment of Indoor Air Quality, published this month, took readings using the prior methodology and related them to “human Health Criteria Values, such as indoor air quality guidelines or workplace exposure limits where established, to provide a context for potential bystander exposures,” with a view to “understand the contribution of exhaled e-cigarette aerosol to the pre-existing chemicals in the ambient air.”
Air in a naturally ventilated room was assessed before, during and after the use of a closed-system cigalike. Measurements were taken to calculate the presence of organic compounds including nicotine, carbonyls, hydrocarbons, tobacco-specific nitrosamines and trace metals. Three e-cigarette users introduced vapour to the room during a 165 min vaping session - averaging 3.2 puffs per minute.
The team found “Our data indicates that exposure of bystanders to the chemicals in the exhaled e-cigarette aerosol, at the levels measured within our study, are below current regulatory standards that are used for workplaces or general indoor air quality.”
They were open and honest regarding potential shortcomings in their research but the largest problem to this being accepted in the wider community is that all four participants are employees of (and the study funded by) Imperial Tobacco.