The Chicago Journal

Scientists Note Possible Health Risk from Secondhand E-Cigarette Smoke

Secondhand cigarette smoke has been well-understood for years, but science is still in the process of understanding how inhaling secondhand vapor affects your body. The evidence so far suggests that it may not be any safer than breathing directly from a pack – and some studies have even shown increased risks when vapers are exposed to other people’s public vaping habits.

People may be underestimating their risk of contracting bronchitis, according to recent research. Assistant Professor Talat Islam and his colleagues at the University of Southern California found that exposure was associated with increased symptoms in young adults who do not smoke or vape—especially around those people are most vulnerable: teenagers.

“Aerosols from vaping contain heavy metals and ultrafine particles,” said Islam. “If somebody else is vaping in the same area, you’re breathing it – those particles are entering your lungs, where they can do damage.”

A new study has found that the e-liquids of vape products contain heavy metals, which may lead to popcorn lung in people who inhale them.

The use of e-cigarettes is not only responsible for increased levels of fine particles in your surrounding environment, but it could also lead to worse heart and lung disease. 

“There’s a perception as a whole that vaping is not as harmful as smoking,” noted Islam. “I think that’s why we see such high levels of secondhand exposure.”

Dr. Ellen Boakye, a post doctoral research fellow at the John Hopkins Ciccarone Center for Preventive Cardiovascular Disease in Baltimore believes that when health impacts are fully understood, it may be too late.

“When people started smoking, the health effects were not known until years later, and that’s the same thing we’re seeing with e-cigarettes,” said Boakye. “There is evidence to suggest that e-cigarette use is associated with respiratory conditions and cardiovascular disease. As more evidence becomes available, we may see that this association is causal, both for e-cigarette use and for exposure to secondhand vapor.”

Boakye urges people to minimize their exposure to vaping and for those who vape to quit, noting that more funding is needed for vaping cessation programs.