So my newest order of e-cig came yesterday (as you may recall from my first post, I tried the XHale o2 and wasn’t totally pleased with it). The one I’ve just received is the titan 510 compact.
I was extremely pleased with my first hit, as it was, in my opinion, extremely comparable to a drag on a real cigarette. The battery button allows you to press and then inhale and the vapor blown out after the hit was nice. But then, I became concerned and the question came to mind: “If this is so close to a ‘real’ cig, what harmful chemicals are contained in it that make it so great?” Thus starting my mission to really look into the e-liquids or e-juice to find out the health risks involved with ‘vaping’.
As I began reading I giggled when I found a post stating, (I reworded because I can’t recall the exact words, but was something like this) “I find it ironic how a smoker will light up any cigarette box of any brand and unquestionably light it up without considering all the harmful chemical contained in them, and yet become militant in questioning the harmful issues with e-cigs, even given the reduction of cancerous chemicals and obvious benefits to not inhaling burning smoke”. And yes, this person is correct, however, I am concerned about giving up something bad for something with an unknown “bad”, almost as if knowing is better.
Continuing on….I read about two main substances in the e-liquids, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. Let me preface by stating, I am NOT in any way versed on chemicals or similar, I am just a regular person trying to understand what’s in these things! Trying to weed through the valid good and bad concerns, as well as the overhyped worried comments on the net to deduce my own understanding and comfort in proceeding with using the e-cig so that I can personally reduce or completely quit smoking real cigarettes.
So, with that above disclaimer…I learned there are many questions and concerns with “propylene glycol” and even upon mentioning it to my husband he instantly said “well, isn’t that the stuff in anti-freeze?” Ugh, that worried me a bit, quite a bit actually, hence the increased desire to research this stuff. In researching on the web, I found that yes, it is an agent in anti-freeze as well as many other items. I found the following list from wikipedia (yes, I know wikipedia isn’t always the best base for facts, but what I read was knowledgable enough for me at this stage of my research) and it was extremely enlightening for me:
Propylene glycol is used:
- As a solvent in many pharmaceuticals, including oral, injectable and topical formulations. Notably, diazepam, which is insoluble in water, uses propylene glycol as its solvent in its clinical, injectable form.
- As a humectant food additive, labeled as E number E1520
- As an emulsification agent in Angostura and orange bitters
- As a moisturizer in medicines, cosmetics, food, toothpaste, shampoo, mouth wash, hair care and tobacco products
- As a carrier in fragrance oils
- As an ingredient in massage oils
- In hand sanitizers, antibacterial lotions, and saline solutions
- In smoke machines to make artificial smoke for use in firefighters‘ training and theatrical productions
- In electronic cigarettes, as a vaporizable base for diluting the nicotine liquid
- As a solvent for food colors and flavorings
- As an ingredient, along with wax and gelatin, in the production of paintballs
- As a moisture stabilizer (humectant) for snus (Swedish style snuff).
- As a cooling agent for beer and wine glycol jacketed fermentation tanks
- As a non-toxic antifreeze for winterizing drinking water systems, and in applications where the used antifreeze eventually will be drained into the soil, water, or a septic system.
- As a less-toxic antifreeze in solar water heating systems
- As a solvent used in mixing photographic chemicals, such as film developers
- In cryonics
- As a working fluid in hydraulic presses
- As a coolant in liquid cooling systems
- To regulate humidity in a cigar humidor
- As the killing and preserving agent in pitfall traps, usually used to capture ground beetles
- As an additive to pipe tobacco to prevent dehydration.
- To treat livestock ketosis
- As the main ingredient in deodorant sticks.
- To de-ice aircraft.
- As an ingredient in UV or blacklight tattoo ink
- As a lubricant in air conditioning compressors.
- As a wetting agent, used to determine drying time in paints and coatings
Given the above list, it helped me take a step back and understand, yes propylene is a dangerous chemical in and of itself for ingestion. But if it is used in food coloring, and pharmaceuticals a solvent in oral and injectables, and deodorant (which by the way goes directly into our blood stream as well), then really what makes ‘vaping’ this substance any worse? Although there is a wealth of caution and warnings on ‘vaping’ on the net by many of the same officials that don’t seem to be questioning it’s use in the other above mentioned items.
I don’t know. Again, I am just a ‘lay-person’ trying to learn and discover which is the better route for me personally.
Here is the next statement from the same wikipedia page:
The acute oral toxicity of propylene glycol is very low, and large quantities are required to cause perceptible health damage in humans; propylene glycol is metabolized in the human body into pyruvic acid (a normal part of the glucose-metabolism process, readily converted to energy), acetic acid (handled by ethanol-metabolism), lactic acid (a normal acid generally abundant during digestion), and propionaldehyde. Serious toxicity generally occurs only at plasma concentrations over 1 g/L, which requires extremely high intake over a relatively short period of time. It would be nearly impossible to reach toxic levels by consuming foods or supplements, which contain at most 1 g/kg of PG. Cases of propylene glycol poisoning are usually related to either inappropriate intravenous administration or accidental ingestion of large quantities by children. The potential for long-term oral toxicity is also low. In one study, rats were provided with feed containing as much as 5% PG in feed over a period of 104 weeks and they showed no apparent ill effects. Because of its low chronic oral toxicity, propylene glycol was classified by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use as a direct food additive.
The above paragraph at least helped me get to comfort level with ‘vaping’ anything containing “PG”. Then the article goes on to caution a bit here:
Prolonged contact with propylene glycol is essentially non-irritating to the skin. Undiluted propylene glycol is minimally irritating to the eye, and can produce slight transient conjunctivitis (the eye recovers after the exposure is removed). Exposure to mists may cause eye irritation, as well as upper respiratory tract irritation. Inhalation of the propylene glycol vapors appears to present no significant hazard in ordinary applications. However, limited human experience indicates that inhalation of propylene glycol mists could be irritating to some individuals. Therefore inhalation exposure to mists of these materials should be avoided. Some research has suggested that propylene glycol not be used in applications where inhalation exposure or human eye contact with the spray mists of these materials is likely, such as fogs for theatrical productions or antifreeze solutions for emergency eye wash stations.
as I read the above, I see that I do need to be cautious and maybe make sure I’m not vaping every second of the day, but I don’t smoke every second of the day either, so logically, I need to make sure that I don’t trade one habit for a much more frequent habit, just because I can. The idea of vaping seems an easy one to trade the real cigarette (or analog) for, because now the theory is that we can vape safely indoors, which would, of course, allow us to easily “vape” more frequently. I suspect in what I’m reading so far, it’s just logical to keep with a similar pattern to how often I smoked. I’m even considering forcing myself to actually “go outside” to vape, so that the pattern stays similar and I don’t end up forcing myself to ‘vape’ more than I “smoked” which in turn will actually make me even more addicted to nicotine than I already am!! UGh, go figure!
the last bit of caution from the wiki page, does show some concern:
Adverse responses to intravenous administration of drugs which use PG as an excipient have been seen in a number of people, particularly with large dosages thereof. Responses may include “hypotension[,] bradycardia… QRS and T abnormalities on the ECG[,] arrhythmia[,] cardiac arrest[,] serum hyperosmolality[,] lactic acidosis[,] and haemolysis”. A high percentage (12% to 42%) of directly-injected propylene glycol is eliminated/secreted in urine unaltered depending on dosage, with the remainder appearing in its glucuronide-form. The speed of renal filtration decreases as dosage increases, which may be due to propylene glycol’s mild anesthetic / CNS-depressant -properties as an alcohol. In one case, administration via IV of PG-suspended nitroglycerin to an elderly man may have induced coma and acidosis.
As the above states, it seems there are some effects on the kidneys we should be aware of, and again, as I understand what it’s stating, the amount of use makes all the difference. So keeping my habits outdoors will keep me from “vaping” more than I smoked. But then I read on to this part and it further supports my incline to head outdoors:
According to a 2010 study by Karlstad University, the concentrations of PGEs, propylene glycol and glycol ethers in indoor air, particularly bedroom air, has been linked to increased risk of developing numerous respiratory and immune disorders in children, including asthma, hay fever, eczema, and allergies, with increased risk ranging from 50% to 180%. This concentration has been linked to use of water-based paints and water-based cleansers.[24
This statement alone is enough to keep me ‘vaping’ outdoors. I mean how many years did it take our officials to figure out our parents shouldn’t have been smoking cigarettes indoors, and how many respiratory issues did we children of the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s grow up with being near 2nd hand smoke? It wasn’t until the 90′s when the general public became aware that 2nd hand smoke is harmful. I certainly don’t want to put my children or spouse or any other non-smoker at risk while I indulge in my habit and wait years for them to discover we shouldn’t have been vaping indoors. This is an easy enough fix and not a change to my habit anyhow, since as a regular smoker for 20+ years, I’ve already been heading out doors.
This concludes my research venture for today. I have happily calmed some of my nerves on the effects of the PG being contained the e-liquids. Please note, I am not supporting or denying this chemical’s harmful effects, I am simply writing what I learn and discovering what I am comfortable as a trade off between what I know causes cancer and what I am trying to discover if e-cigs are truly “safer” to trade to.
Until my next blog, have a fabulous day!