Since the introduction of e-cigarettes, many users, bystanders, and researchers have asked the question about the effect of electronic cigarette vapor on indoor air quality.  Well a study was done at the Fraunhofer Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut in Germany to test just that.  They puffed on the e-cigarette 6 times as well as a conventional tobacco cigarette 6 times and compared the results.  A brief and incomplete abstract can be found at Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education at UCSF.  The conclusion was that e-cigarette vapor produces detectable levels of 2-Butanone (MEK), Acetic acid, and Formaldehyde in the air so they should be banned indoors.  Seems logical, right?  Well that’s the power of bad science.  Without looking deeper, it can be misleading.

The truth is these 3 compounds are found everywhere.  In fact, in a study done on exhaled breath found that these compounds where found in human breath.  The study can be found here.  This doesn’t even mention that many many trace amounts, but in detectable levels, are found in the air from everything from household paint to cooked meat to glue used in plywood.  The devil is in the dosage and what the study author, Dr. Glantz didn’t do was his job.  He didn’t give the study perspective.  He compared the e-cigarette vapor to tobacco smoke and found it was much lower (obviously) but didn’t compare the numbers to everyday experiences.

As Bill Godshall from Smokefree Pensylvania states:

Stan Glantz claims e-cigarette use should be banned indoors because they “are putting detectable levels of several significant carcinogens and toxins in the air” and “there are no safe levels of exposure to carcinogens,” but fails to acknowledge that building materials, carpeting, furniture, televisions, computers, printers, cosmetics, household cleaners, foods, cooking, coffee, smokers, nonsmokers and many other things emit “detectable levels” of “carcinogens” and/or “toxins”

So do us a favor Dr. Glantz and spending less time worrying that your conclusion meets whatever predetermined expectations you have and more time on the science.

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