Is Secondhand Vapor Harmful?

While we all know that secondhand smoke from tobacco cigarettes is damaging to the health, what are the facts when it comes to secondhand vapor? Although lots of people believe that they will suffer from no negative effects if they breathe in secondhand vape, others are worried that being exposed to vapor clouds could be harmful. The result of this debate is that several studies have been carried out into what, if any, effect secondhand vapor has on the body. This research couldn’t come at a more appropriate time, since many public places have started to ban the use of e-cigs on their premises without carrying out any investigations into whether they actually represent a threat to public health.

What Is Already Known About Secondhand Vapor?

Since e-cigarettes have only been widely used for about 10 years, currently there can be no definitive way to determine any potential long term effect that secondhand exposure to vapor can cause. However, there has already been analysis performed on emitted vapor in order to discover whether any potentially harmful components are released. The good news is that the majority of studies have proved that secondhand vapor is not only much safer to inhale than the smoke produced by tobacco cigarettes, but it could even be almost non-existent. While there have been different benchmarks used to analyse the vapor’s components, most research seems to confirm that aerosol emitted from e-cigs isn’t at all harmful. As an example, a study carried out in 2014 into the effect of secondhand vapor exposure in workplaces concluded that there was no evidence to show vapers were allowing their co-workers to be exposed to any risky contaminants. In fact, the same study revealed that any secondhand exposure to vapor would be, in fact, less than 1% of today’s current threshold for workplace air quality.

Smoke Vs. Vapor

The majority of experts have acknowledged that vaping now represents a good alternative to smoking tobacco, and potentially it could even benefit the community’s health at large. 2014 research revealed that vapor from e-cigarettes contains under 1/20th of the carcinogens and toxins that are breathed in from cigarette smoke. This study came shortly after the revelation in 2012 that e-cigarettes only produce a tiny amount of exposure to any byproducts at all, and that there is no obvious risk to health posed by vapor. The primary difference between secondhand vapor and tobacco smoke is that cigarettes continuously emit their harmful byproducts, while secondhand exposure from e-cigs solely comes from the user’s own exhaled breath.

Ambient Air and Vapor

Of course a lot of people will say that a comparison of secondhand vapor and tobacco smoke cannot possibly be fair, since clearly e-cig emissions will be much less harmful. They would say that the comparison should instead by carried out between vapor and the air around us that we breathe on a daily basis. Luckily, researchers have also looked into this, measuring the volume of no less than eight kinds of harmful components. The result demonstrated that even when the weight of those eight constituents was combined, the total amount in vapor was actually less than 0.17 mg. As ambient air itself has about 0.16 mg of those constituents already in it, the evidence shows overwhelmingly that breathing in secondhand e-cig vapor is virtually identical to breathing the regular air.

Could Nicotine Be An Issue?

Although not every e-cig or e-juice contain nicotine, a lot do. This raises worries that vapor produced by these e-liquids could potentially expose any non-vapers in the same space to an addictive substance, especially if that space happens to be indoors. Although the facts have not yet been fully clarified, several studies have shown that the volume of nicotine emitted in vapor is about ten times less that the amount in tobacco cigarette smoke.

The debate rages on about whether secondhand vapor is safe or not, and to date, there can be no definitive answer as to whether or not it has any negative effect on the public’s health. However, the conclusion must be that overall, the public will have a better standard of health if all smokers made the switch to vaping. Despite today’s ever-present bans on vaping in public spaces, the truth appears to be that breathing in secondhand clouds is actually less damaging to your health than breathing in traffic fumes.

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