Vapes, heated tobacco have no adverse impact on indoor air quality, studies show
The use of smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes such as vapes and heated tobacco products (HTPs) do not negatively affect the air quality in enclosed areas, significantly reducing the exposure of non-smokers to harmful chemicals produced by cigarette smoke, according to peer-reviewed scientific studies.
These studies show that while combustible cigarettes produce smoke that contains thousands of toxic substances, alternative products that produce vapor instead are far less harmful to consumers and non-consumers as they drastically reduce exposure to such chemicals even in an indoor setting.
Nicotine, while addictive, is relatively harmless, according to the British National Health Service. It is the smoke from combustion that causes nearly all the harm in smoking.
Vaping or the use of e-cigarettes, on the other hand, is considered a better way of delivering nicotine without burning or combustion.
“Electronic cigarettes meet many of the criteria of an ideal product to reduce tobacco harm. Although the delivery of nicotine from e-cigarettes depends on several factors, […], they may contain a high dose of nicotine, but do not have harmful components of tobacco smoke,” the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom said.
Over the years, researchers have looked into the impact on the indoor air quality of e-cigarettes and HTPs. Researchers from Kaunas University of Technology in Lithuania, in a study published in September 2018 by ScienceDirect, compared the indoor concentrations of toxic substances and particulate matter 2.5 and discussed the concentrations of other harmful and potentially harmful substances.
“In the controlled environment, the use of tobacco heating system or THS (as well as an electronic cigarette) resulted in the lowest concentrations of formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, PM2.5 among majority researched pollution sources (conventional cigarettes, waterpipe, incense, mosquito coils),” authors Violeta Kauneliene, Marija Meisutovic-Akhtarieva and Dainius Martuzevicius said.
“Such data indicate that the levels of the main indoor air pollution markers in case of THS environmental aerosol may be too low to distinguish from the background, thus raising additional challenges for epidemiological studies aiming at the assessments of second-hand exposure in real-life environments,” they said.
A study also published on ScienceDirect in March 2018 found that emissions from THS or commonly known as heated tobacco products (HTPs) are reduced in indoor air compared to those of conventional cigarettes. The researchers said HTPs have a significantly lower impact on indoor air quality than the conventional combustible cigarette because of the significantly lower emissions profile of both aerosol particles and chemical emissions.
The study concluded that HTPs had significantly less impact on indoor air quality and that their emissions were significantly less odorous than those of conventional cigarettes and their emissions.
Meanwhile, researchers from L.I. Medved’s Research Center of Preventive Toxicology, Food and Chemical Safety, Ministry of Health of Ukraine published a 2017 study in the Ukrainian Journal of Modern Problems of Toxicology which found that during HTP use, substances such as benzo(a) pyrene, nicotine, and ammonia were not detected.
“Contrary to conventional cigarettes, the actual content of the air safety indicators (carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and formaldehyde) in indoor air during and after consumption of electrically heated tobacco system by no means exceeded the threshold limit value for atmospheric air,” the study said.
In 2019, a study published by global publication SpringerLink assessed the air quality of HTPs under simulated residential conditions. Researchers led by Dr. Maya I. Mitova said that under simulated “Residential Category III” environmental conditions, only two compounds (nicotine and acetaldehyde) and one specific compound (aerosol former glycerin) were attributable to the indoor use of HTPs, but at below harmful levels.
“The quantified concentrations of the three airborne compounds during indoor use (of HTPs) in the high-load-simulated residential environment studies were below the harmful levels defined by cognizant authorities. Thus, normal hygienic measures, such as regular aeration of the residential spaces, would lead to efficient control of these low to negligible levels of pollution,” they said.
“In conclusion, the use (of HTPs) in an indoor environment, where norms for indoor exposure in terms of adequate ventilation are respected, does not adversely affect the overall indoor air quality,” the researchers said.
Smoke-free products are now promoted in countries that recognize the tobacco harm reduction policy, a practical approach that aims to reduce the harm from smoking cigarettes by using less harmful alternative products such as vapes and HTPs. The United Kingdom saw smoking levels fall by 25 percent since 2013 or when vaping became popular.
Japan also saw cigarette sales decline 34 percent as smokers switched to HTPs.
The Philippines recently enacted the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act or R.A. 11900 to provide smokers with less harmful alternatives to cigarettes and eventually bring down the smoking rate which affects more than 16 million Filipinos.
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