How to Rebut the Claim: Does My Electronic Cigarette Release Formaldehyde?
Recently the New England Journal of Medicine published the report “Hidden Formaldehyde in E-Cigarette Aerosols”, what was most alarming about this study was the knee-jerk reaction of the media causing quite a frenzy on the coverage of this misleading story.
The study described the findings of researchers who tested two different ecigarette tank systems on two different voltage settings. The first device was set at 3.3 volts, which is a realistic setting that vapers would normally vape at. This setting resulted in zero formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, to be detected in the vapor produced.
The second device was set at 5.0 volts, a very unrealistic and high temperature setting. This setting yielded concentrations of five to fifteen times of what regular cigarettes would produce from smoke exhaled by the smoker. The only thing that this study returned is the fact that when overheated ecigarettes can produce unacceptable levels of formaldehyde.
This of course does sound quite alarming. But what this study did not tell the reader is that the vapor that resulted in formaldehyde readings was produced at very high temperatures. That type of vapor would be noxious and harsh to the airway. You would burn your eliquid so it would taste horrible and it would create the horrible “dry puff” or “dry hit” and at that setting you would also risk burning out your coils. No one would want that kind of vape.
One thing remains clear is that this publication is just another form of fear-mongering as the implications made in the article in regards to the elevated cancer risk from ecigarettes were nothing but deceptive as pointed out by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, a scientist / vaping expert. He noted in his statement on the study that people do not vape at that high voltage because of, “a burning taste that occurs from overheating the liquid” and users couldn’t inhale the vapor it produced because the taste was unbearable.
The American Vaping Association also criticized the many issues present in the study, asserting the simple truth that vapers would never use the high-voltage/wattage settings for the amount of time that it took to produce the alarming results. AVA described the results of the study like someone who had placed a steak on a grill for a whole day, the steak would be charred and produce dangerous carcinogens, but no one actually eats a steak that way.
So is there formaldehyde in your electronic cigarette?
While the Journal’s study is factually true that vaping at an extremely high voltage/wattage will cause formaldehyde-releasing agents in the vapor, the conclusion is nothing but misleading. Vapers do not vape at such a high setting, because it would taste awful.
In the easiest of terms:
The researchers of this study tested the second ecigarette at a very high 5.0 volts that no one in real life would use. Further pointed out by ecig advocate Clive Bates in a post responding to the test, at 5.0 volts the coil temperature was listed as 600 degrees Celsius or 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit! In normal world applications vapers vape at a coil temperature of 200 degrees Celsius or 392 degrees Fahrenheit up to 260 degrees Celsius or 500 degrees Fahrenheit, with dry hits already occuring at 536 degrees Fahrenheit (280 degrees Celsius); the tested coil was over double the real world coil temperature.;
The one positive result of the study is the great news that at a normal voltage ecigarettes do not produce formaldehyde! “Rather than scaring people about the dangers of vaping and alarming them to the ‘fact’ that vaping raises their cancer risk above that of smoking, we should instead be regulating the voltage and temperature conditions of electronic cigarettes so that the problem of formaldehyde contamination is completely avoided,” wrote Michael Siegel, a professor of public health at Boston University on his blog.