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Medical News Today: The truth about formaldehyde in e-cigarettes
Author: David Railton
Posted: May 30, 2018

Read the original article in Medical News Today.

Do e-cigarettes produce dangerous formaldehyde levels? This question has split scientific opinion for years. A new study reopens the discussion.

Three years ago, researchers at Portland State University in Oregon conducted a study that found previously unknown forms of formaldehyde in the vapor of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes).

Following criticism of their work, the researchers revisited their investigation. Their findings are published in the journal Scientific Reports.

This time, they concluded that the risk posed by the formaldehyde content of e-cigarettes is, in fact, greater than they had originally believed.

Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring chemical that is used in the manufacture of building materials and many household products. Industrially, formaldehyde is used as a disinfectant, and as a preservative in medical laboratories and mortuaries.

As well as building materials and cleaning products, formaldehyde can also be found in the smoke from cigarettes, unvented gas stoves, wood-burning stoves, and kerosene heaters.

Since the early 1980s, doctors have suspected that formaldehyde is a carcinogen — a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue.

And finally, in 2011, after many studies, the Department of Health and Human Services' National Toxicology Program officially confirmed that formaldehyde is a human carcinogen.

What did the original study report?
The original 2015 study that investigated formaldehyde and e-cigarettes was led by David Peyton, Robert Strongin, and James Pankow. It identified new forms of formaldehyde in e-cigarette vapor that were at levels five to 15 times higher than those in normal cigarettes.

The study also found that these new formaldehyde compounds could be drawn much more deeply into the lungs than the "gaseous" formaldehyde in cigarette smoke, because the new compounds bound to particles in the e-cigarette aerosols.