Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

They are tasteful, colorful and popular with teenagers, but new Australian research is discovering increasing evidence that fumes are also unsafe to use.

Curtin University respiratory physiologist Alexander Larcombe studied 65 common liquids used in vapors by local suppliers available in Australia.

Dr. Larcombe said the results showed that many fumes contained carcinogens and other harmful ingredients.

The study is an extension of a 2019 study published by the same researchers who looked at 10 vape ingredients. It is the most comprehensive study of products available in Australia to date.

It is estimated that more than 200,000 Australians use fumes, but those who use them with nicotine must have a prescription from a doctor.

Until recently, nicotine-free flavors were far more readily available online and from tobacco retailers.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has recently cracked down on imports, but can only regulate them with nicotine and the import of officially banned flavorings, and there are far fewer rules regarding the manufacture and supply of flavorings in Australia alone.

Associate Professor Alexander Larcombe in the laboratory
Associate Professor Larcombe’s study was based on previous research that looked at a small number of brands.(



In the latest study, researchers looked at the “nicotine-free” products when they were fresh and after they had been repeatedly heated and cooled in a vapor.

Dr. Larcombe said his research, published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday, was intended to counteract widespread belief among vapers.

“A lot of the people who use these things are not trying to stop, it’s teenagers trying them at school.”

‘A dirty manufacturing process’

Researchers found evidence of a group of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which have been linked to lung cancer, bladder and gastrointestinal cancer.

Dr. Larcombe said researchers found PAHs at a number of levels.

“There is not really any safe level of exposure to PAH that is accepted,” he said.

The researchers also found “dangerously high levels” of lung-irritating benzaldehyde, which is added to vapors to give them an almond flavor, in 61 of the 65 samples.

“It changes the way some of the cells in your lungs work,” said Dr. Larcombe. “It degrades your lungs, which are usually responsible for clearing pathogens.”

The study also found high levels of a cinnamon flavor known as trans-cinnamaldehyde in up to 48 of the fluids.

Its potential health effects are then regarding the drug has been added by TGA to an Australian list of banned flavors.

Six of the flavors promoted as nicotine-free still had traces of nicotine.

Dr. Larcombe said it was against Australian law.

“It’s a sign of a dirty manufacturing process or Australian companies getting [the liquids] from abroad, “he said.

Pesticides, cleaning products at the hospital found

Researchers also discovered a chemical called 2-chlorophenol in up to 30 samples commonly used in disinfectants and pesticides.

Dr. Larcombe said the researchers suspected that it was residues from pesticides sprayed on the crops used to generate glycerol, one of the main ingredients in the liquids.

“It was surprising and worrying that such a harmful chemical could be in there, and people are inhaling it.”

The shelves of a vape shop, fully equipped
Recyclable fumes are battery-powered devices that heat a cartridge with liquid nicotine and / or flavor to a mist that is converted to a vapor.(

ABC News: Dane Hirst


One of the most important flavor enhancers in many fumes is benzyl alcohol. It was found in 42 of the fluids and in some cases at very high levels.

“What it does to the airways, or what it does to your lungs from warming up and breathing [it in] is unknown at this time, “said Dr. Larcombe.

This was also a trace of a vanilla flavor called ethyl vanillin, which was in up to 59 of the liquids at reasonably high levels.

Vapes also have a metal heating coil that heats the liquid, which decomposes over time during use.

Dr. Larcombe said it consisted of chromium, nickel and iron, and that researchers had found “low levels” of these heavy metals.

He said the plastic container containing the liquid also broke down over time.

“You’re probably also pulling in microplastics and other things,” he said.

Man vaping
Vapors contain a metal coil inside that heats the liquid.(

Delivered: Pixabay


Dr. Larcombe said most Australians would not know that there was a difference between eating a flavor and inhaling it.

This was because when a chemical was heated – like what happened in the evaporation process – it changed its chemical structure.

“Heating at lower temperatures can be just as bad, if not worse, at generating ugly output,” he said.

Requires stricter manufacturing rules

The results have prompted the Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation to call for comprehensive reforms of fluid production in Australia.

The Minderoo Foundation — a Perth-based philanthropic organization — said it funded research in the field as part of its Collaborate Against Cancer initiative.

“We now have the evidence to support consistent tobacco licensing in all states,” said Minderoo Foundation CEO Steve Burnell.

“[As well as] restrictions on non-nicotine-vaporizing products, changes in the law banning tobacco advertising and much stricter surveillance and compliance — everything is required to protect our young people from these toxic products. “

Dr.  Miranda Ween extracts fumes from an e-cigarette.
Dr. Miranda Ween extracts fumes from an e-cigarette as part of her research to find out if steaming is dangerous to human health.(

ABC: Brett Williamson


University of Adelaide researcher Dr. Miranda Ween-regarded as the world leader in e-cigarette research- supported the results.

She said it highlighted the need to regulate flavored fumes, not just those that contained nicotine.

“These people do not necessarily have to have good production practice qualifications.”

Dr. Ween said some of the advice and information on vapors from suppliers was incorrect or based on the latest research.

In a statement, a spokesman for the regulator, TGA, said it would revise its standards for nicotine-based fumes next year, but did not specify whether it would include those that just contained flavorings.

The spokesman said it tested products that were intercepted at the border of nicotine and banned ingredients.

“This test is part of a broader compliance program to monitor and deal with illegal import, advertising and delivery.”


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