Undisclosed Reactants

Being a student in high school in today’s culture has shown a widespread increase in vaping usage. The variety of flavors, convenience, along with peer pressure have created an epidemic. With flavors from mango to strawberry lemonade there is a flavor for everyone. The invisibility of the different types of vapes make them nearly foolproof to use in class as seen in the picture above. Peer pressure ties in with popularity many try it because they are with friends and they are all vaping and they don’t want to be the only one not vaping, so they join in and become addicted. Same thing with popularity when many teens see their idol, Katy Perry, with a vape on Labor Day they feel like they should have one also and become as popular as Katy Perry. The FDA is now attempting to put an end to this now that they can see how popular it is amongst teens. Vaping is meant to be an alternative to help those addicted to smoking quit, but due to flavors most vapers have not even smoked a cigarette before. Although vaping is great alternative to quit smoking when combined with flavors it produces compounds called acetals. These compounds are created when chemical flavorings for vanilla, cherry, citrus and cinnamon combine with solvents like glycerol and polypropylene glycol. The e-liquid manufacturers have not noted the creation of acetals from their products. Acetals stay in the body for a lasting time and as they stay active in your body, they will eventually activate irritant pathways. These pathways cause inflammatory responses within the body that could block airways.

Part of the reasoning for this is increased temperatures produce formaldehyde, a dangerous carcinogen. Lower temperatures minimize the risk of formaldehyde creation. Formaldehyde causes cancer in the nasopharynx, which is the upper part of the throat behind the nose. Exposure to formaldehyde has immediate effects such as wheezing, asthma attacks, nausea, and headaches. A postdoctoral associate in chemical and environmental engineering at Yale stated that “our findings show that even in the absence of heating and combustion, chemical reactions are occurring in e-cigarette liquids and the resulting compounds could be harmful to the user’s airways.” The same study found that when mixed with solvents at least 40 percent of flavored juices converted to acetal compounds. When studied further half to 80 percent of those acetals were inhalable. This data shows significance because it was only the data from liquids with 0.8%-2.5% flavor additives even though some contain from 0.5%-10% flavor additives. This means the levels of acetal produced could be higher than this. . Although formaldehyde is commonly used in everyday products it is seen that when mixed into E-liquid their irritant levels increase exponentially.

There could be many more unknown long-term effects of vaping, but due to how new it is to the society not enough research has been done to have proof of it being a safe alternative. Even though new information comes out nearly every day about vaping its users know of the possible problems and continue doing it because of addiction, taste, and popularity. The epidemic has slowed down but not that much as students still can vape in areas without supervision. It does not help that most users are teens either because our bodies are still in the development stage. When teens vape with developing lungs, we become more susceptible to allergies, asthma, and irritation.


About Mr. Mohn

Biology Teacher

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