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Regulate  vapes call as study finds acute toxins

09 May 2024 / regulation Print

'Regulate vapes' call as study finds acute toxins

The lead author of new research into vaping devices has said the findings highlight the need for “comprehensive” regulation of flavoured vapes.

The research by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), published in Scientific Reports, has found that potentially harmful substances that are produced when e-liquids in vaping devices are heated for inhalation.

The research team in RCSI’s Department of Chemistry used artificial intelligence (AI) to simulate the effects of heating e-liquid flavour chemicals found in nicotine vapes.

They included all 180 known e-liquid flavour chemicals, predicting the new compounds formed when these substances are heated within a vaping device immediately prior to inhalation.

Hazardous chemicals

The RCSI says that the chemicals used in flavoured vapes are derived mainly from the food industry, where they have a good safety record for specific uses. It adds, however, that they were never intended to be heated to high temperatures for inhalation.

The RCSI says that the analysis reveals the formation of many hazardous chemicals – including 127 that are classified as ‘acute toxic’, 153 as ‘health hazards’, and 225 as ‘irritants’.

These include a group of chemicals called volatile carbonyls (VCs), which the authors say are known to pose health risks.

‘New wave’ of diseases

Lead author Professor Donal O’Shea (Professor of Chemistry and head of department) described the findings of the study as “very concerning”.

“Our findings indicate a significantly different profile of chemical hazards compared to what we are familiar with from traditional tobacco smoking,” he stated.

“It is plausible that we are on the cusp of a new wave of chronic diseases that will emerge 15 to 20 years from now due to these exposures,” Prof O’Shea added.

“We hope this research will help people make more informed choices and contribute to the conversation on the potential long-term health risks and the regulation of vaping, which this research suggests should be comprehensive,” he concluded.

Ban on sale to under-18s

A new law banning the sale of nicotine-inhaling products, such as e-cigarettes, to people under 18 came into effect just before Christmas last year, after the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly commenced the relevant section of the Public Health (Tobacco Products and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill 2023.

Further measures under the bill will come into effect on 23 September.

These include a ban on the sale of tobacco products or nicotine-inhaling products at events aimed at children, and a ban on advertising for such products around cinema films for children, on public-service vehicles, at stops or stations, and within 200 metres of a school.

A consultation process on further measures to decrease the appeal of nicotine-inhaling products to young people concluded in January.

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