As more research comes available and more studies are being done on the effects of e-cigarettes, today the New England Journal of Medicine raises a new worry about electronic cigarettes – exposure to formaldehyde. You remember formaldehyde, right? Who could forget that awful-smelling chemical used in your high school biology class to dissect frogs? Turns out, formaldehyde is formed when the propylene glycol and glycerol in e-cigarette liquids and oxygen are heated together.
According to an article in today's Los Angeles Times Science Now, The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer says formaldehyde can cause leukemia and nasopharyngeal cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers the chemical a probably human carcinogen.
Let's not kid ourselves. The study coauthor James Pankow, a chemistry professor and expert on cigarette smoke dangers at Portland State University, said the line between e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes was growing fuzzier by the day.
“No one should assume e-cigarettes are safe,” he said in a statement. “For conventional cigarettes, once people become addicted, it takes numerous years of smoking to result in a high risk of lung cancer and other severe disease; it will probably take five to 10 years to start to see whether e-cigarettes are truly as safe as some people believe them to be.”
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