Department of Biology
Studies on the health impact of vaping so far have largely ignored the fact that electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) is essentially an electronic product which is likely to contain a group of endocrine disrupting flame retardants, namely, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) as additives in the combustible components of the product. Thus, the conclusion that e-cigarette is less harmful to health than tobacco smoking may be based on incomplete information. This study reports moderate to elevated levels of PBDEs in 5 out of the 13 samples of e-cigarettes. This finding is suggestive of the continued use of PBDEs in the manufacturing of e-cigarette atomizers and the associated protective casing. This study is unique as it confirms the existence of this developmental neurotoxicant in e-cigarette aerosols. In view of the significant levels of PBDEs and other known carcinogens (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and formaldehydes) in e-cigarette aerosol, there is an urgent need for conducting a thorough review of the health risks of vaping by relevant professionals. A further lesson learnt from this study is that policy makers and relevant product manufacturers should be aware of the possible presence of PBDEs in the aerosol of body care and medical electrical devices such as face steamers, inhalators and nebulizers, especially when PBDEs are utilized in the combustible components of these devices.
Electronic cigarette, Brominated flame retardant, PBDEs
Source Publication Title
Journal of Cleaner Production
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This work was supported by the Council on Smoking and Health of Hong Kong.
Link to Publisher's Edition
Chung, S., Zheng, J., Kwong, A., & Lai, V. (2018). Harmful flame retardant found in electronic cigarette aerosol. Journal of Cleaner Production, 171, 10-16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.09.286