Myth of Healthy Vaping

You may be a smoker who wants to quit, and you have examined the various options that are available to you and have decided to start using an e-cigarette (vaping) as an alternative to standard tobacco products. The explosion of stores in strip malls and online may have convinced you it’s a safe and healthy way to quit the smoking habit you’ve had for years, but there is a darker side to vaping. While it is true the United States Food and Drug Administration is requiring all new vaping liquid with nicotine be submitted for approval, there are still many liquids formulated prior to 2016 that remain on the market. If you are still considering vaping, then you should know the facts.

The first thing to know about vaping is that it can cause a condition known as “popcorn lung”, condition brought on by a chemical known as diacetyl. According to Web MD diacetyl is used to provide a buttery flavor and vicsous consistency in some of the vaping liquids. Popcorn lung’s scientific name is bronchitis obletirans, and it is an unflinching disease. The condition leads to the damaging of tiny air sacs in the lung and the continual thickening of the lung walls and makes breathing labored and leading to a slow, miserable death. The name popcorn lung came from a case where workers at a popcorn factory were exposed to diacetyl being used to give the popcorn a buttery flavor; which lead to the workers contracting the condition. The incident lead to popcorn produces to remove diacetyl, yet there are many vaping liquids that contain it. According to a 2015 study by Harvard University, more than seventy-five percent of vaping liquids contain diacetyl. While this is a frightening fact about vaping, it is far from the only one.

One possible danger from vaping may be marketed as healthy by the manufacturers of vaping liquids.  These so-called “vitamin vaping” liquids are ineffective because most vitamins, such as b-vitamins, need an enzyme inside your stomach to absorb them. Conversely alleged “healthy” heavy minerals like zinc can buildup in your lungs and cause a condition known as “metal fume fever” this condition can be mistaken for bronchitis or pneumonia and may be overlooked by physicians who are unware that their patient is vaping. The buildup of zinc in your body can also lead to zinc poisoning, and if not detected right away it can cause, loss of feeling, paralysis, brain and liver damage, and even death. An excess of zinc in your body causes a drop in your copper levels and causes damage to the brain, spinal cord and nervous system, leading to a condition known as “human swayback syndrome”. This condition is as bad as it sounds and winds up with most of its victims in a wheelchair or a coffin. With so little evidence that vitamin vaping is healthy and can be the opposite, its best to avoid starting altogether.

Zinc is not the only heavy metal found in vaping liquids. Lead, chromium, manganese, nickel, and more have been found in vaping liquids. These metals have also been found to escape from heating coils in e-cigarettes. In addition dangerous chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene, arsenic, and others have been detected in vaping liquids. It’s arsenic that should give you the most pause from that list. Arsenic is commonly used in agricultural setting to poison rats and insects, and its deadly effects are well known. Cary Grant panicked over his two aunts killing houseguests by poisoning them with the arsenic in the classic “Arsenic and Old Lace”.  Not just the stuff of movies, arsenic is a killer. Nausea and vomiting diarrhea, lesions on the skin, digestive problems, headache, are just a few of the complications caused by arsenic poisoning. Long term damage can occur to your lungs, liver, kidneys, bladder and digestive system. Just as bad is lead poisoning, high levels can cause damage to the nervous system, and cause seizures, and of course, death.

You may have seen some creature preserved in a jar full of formaldehyde in your high school science class. You would never dream of opening the jar and drinking it, but that is exactly what you are doing when you vape with solutions containing formaldehyde. Repeated exposure can result in blindness, asthma trouble, sinus cancer and death.  

You may, or may not, have heard of benzene, but this chemical is used in a number of industrial applications such as manufacture of dyes, fabrics and detergents. It’s also present in cigarettes, so if you thought you were escaping the harmful chemicals in cigarettes by vaping, benzene in vaping liquids counters that notion. Inhaling benzene over a long period of time can lead to inflammation of the lungs resulting in bleeding, fluid buildup, or both.

Another disturbing danger of vaping is the batteries in e-cigarettes exploding. This is a worldwide problem that has not been resolved yet. Hundreds of reports of exploding e-cigarettes have been reported with no signs of stopping. According to tv station WTVO a woman in Rockford, Wisconsin had an e-cigarette explode in her face, resulting in burns and a lost tooth. The BBC reports a man in Leeds had a spare e-cigarette battery in his pocket that exploded when it came into contact with his keys and coins. CNN notes that a thirty-eight-year-old man in Saint Petersburg, Florida had an e-cigarette explode in his face as he vaped and was killed by shrapnel from the explosion. The culprit was a lithium-ion battery, the same kind of battery famous for exploding in laptops and some Samsung phones. E-cigarettes with a larger capacity also have a larger battery. The larger the battery, the larger the explosion. Stop to think about holding an e-cigarette with a large tank to your mouth and then it explodes. The resulting injuries could range from burns to the face and damaged teeth, to blindness and death. Your family and property are at risk from exploding e-cigarettes as well. According to the Daily Mail a three-year-old boy in Mount Pleasant Utah was burned when a copper coil shot out of a charging e-cigarette and landed on his car seat. The materials that made up the car seat immediately caught fire and the little boy was burned, but fortunately it was confined to his arm.

Another myth about vaping is that is safe while pregnant, this is very misleading. Some doctors, when e-cigarettes fist arrived on the market, stated that they were safer than cigarettes, and therefore held less risk. The conjecture was that if you were consuming dangerous chemicals, as long as it was in lower amounts it made vaping while pregnant less of a risk. According to Medical Daily, the idea of vaping while pregnant as safe changed in 2016 when the American Association for the Advancement of Science released a study stating that chemicals in vaping liquids could not only cause a child who had been exposed to them in the womb to have cognitive issues, but that it could cause damage to an embryo’s nervous system. The study also stated that choosing a vaping liquid with no nicotine did nothing to reduce an embryo’s chances of being damaged. Vaping liquids without nicotine have just as many harmful chemicals as above.

Vaping also poses a threat to children. In December of 2014 a one-year old boy from Fort Plain, New York became the first recorded death from vaping liquid. The liquid had been left out and the toddler picked it up and drank from it, which caused him to die from nicotine poisoning. According to Health Daily news the staggering number of children poisoned by vaping liquid between 2012 and 2015 was 8,270. The vaping liquids often come in brightly colored containers that give off an appealing aroma that many toddlers mistake for juice or soda, thus the temptation to drink them becomes greater. Ingesting nicotine through swallowing it is not the only danger facing children under six-year-old. Vaping can cause a child to be poisoned by breathing it in or getting it on their skin.  The National Poison Data System gives out a shocking piece of information: over seven-hundred children are poisoned by vaping every month by swallowing it, breathing it in, or having their skin exposed to it. If you vape in a car with a child you are putting yourself and your child at risk to dangerous chemicals that can make your son or daughter very ill.

The bottom line is that even though vaping was thought to be safer than smoking at it’s inception, there are mountains of data that show it may be just as bad, or worse, than smoking cigarettes. There are other dangers related to vaping not listed here, there were simply too many to list. A Google search of the dangers of vaping will give you further information on just how harmful vaping can be. It is hard to understand why anyone would want to keep vaping, not only putting their own health at risk, but their loved ones as well. Is vaping worth having a house burn down or developing a lifelong condition? Those are question that only you can answer.