People who smoke cherry-flavored e-cigarettes may be exposed to high levels of a certain chemical that irritates the lungs, as revealed by a new study in the United States. Long-term exposure to the chemical may possibly be hazardous to one's health, experts said.

Researchers detected great amounts of respiratory irritant benzaldehyde in the vapor of most flavored e-cigarettes. Led by Maciej Goniewicz, the team found that 108 out of 145 flavored e-cigarettes contained high levels of the chemical.

Goniewicz said their study focused solely on understanding benzaldehyde and the potential health effects of this single toxicant from flavored e-cigarettes.

Why Exposure To Benzaldehyde May Be Bad For The Health

Benzaldehyde is a compound commonly found in food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetic products such as perfume.

Goniewicz said benzaldehyde often smells like almonds and tastes like that or cherries. Generally, low amounts of benzaldehyde are relatively safe when applied to the skin, but inhaling too much of it may not be good.

Animal studies suggest that exposure to benzaldehyde causes irritation to the eyes, skin, and the airways. People affected by high exposure to benzaldehyde may experience sore throat or coughing fits.

"If someone is using electronic cigarettes right now and experiences some of these side effects, this study suggests that they should try a different flavoring that might be less irritating to the users," said Goniewicz, who is an oncology assistant professor at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Through an automatic smoking simulator, Goniewicz and his colleagues generated aerosol vapor which they analyzed for the study. In two series, 30 puffs were taken from each of the flavored e-cigarettes.

After careful calculations, researchers estimated that daily dose of inhaled benzaldehyde per e-cigarette is about 163 puffs per day for an experienced vaper.

Apparently, cherry-flavored e-cigarettes contained the highest amounts of benzaldehyde, where the dose was 43 times higher than other flavored e-cigarettes.

Aside from that, Goniewicz and his team said that the estimated dose of benzaldehyde in e-cigarettes was 30 puffs greater compared to traditional cigarettes. For cherry-flavored e-cigarettes, the calculated rate was more than 1,000 times less than the estimated allowed dose for workers within an eight-hour shift.

The study, which is featured in the journal Thorax, suggests that although e-cigarettes are promising methods to reduce health risks among smokers, long-term exposure to these flavored products can be unsafe.

What The Vaping Community Says About The Report

However, experts from the American Vaping Association say there really is nothing to be worried about, and that the research had been presented as a major health concern when it clearly isn't.

"Our friends at the the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association point out that it would take three years of vaping to reach the maximum levels of benzaldehyde that a worker is allowed to be exposed to during an eight-hour shift," said Gregory Conley, the president of the association.

In the end, study author Goniewicz emphasized that it will be crucial to follow up their findings with studies that examined the long-term effects and chronic toxicity of flavored e-cigarettes.

Photo : Lauri Rantala | Flickr

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