The FDA’s latest findings that electronic cigarettes are unsafe have gained a flurry of attention from nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) advocates who say the already FDA approved NRTs pose the same risks. Worse yet are the recent side-effect warnings the FDA are enforcing be placed on popular drugs Chantix and Zyban that users are at high risk of depression, suicidal thoughts, and hostility. Smokers looking to quit have a right to be upset about the FDA trying to ban electronic cigarettes.
Concerns are beginning to rise that perhaps the FDA is not conducting these tests on electronic cigarettes with the health of the general public in mind. Why is the FDA measuring the safety of these unapproved NRTs to regular health standards instead of contrasting it to the dangers posed by smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes?
I chose to self-examine Diethylene Glycol apart from what the FDA says. Looking at the Health New Zealand study for electronic cigarettes, the presence of Diethylene Glycol was not tested for. They seem to have based their tests on manufacturer ingredient lists and known tobacco carcinogens. So what is Diethylene Glycol? The MSDS shows that chronic exposure to Diethylene Glycol can cause lesions on the liver and kidneys, as well as damage to the same organs.
Examining the substance further, the carcinogenic or cancer causing properties of Diethylene Glycol proved moot as none were found and or expected to be found in the future. The toxicological data showed a lethal ingestion dose at a whopping 855.925g for humans, and that regular exposure was non-toxic. If any adverse reactions were to occur from inhalation, discontinuing use or removing oneself to fresh air is the recommended first aid treatment.
Also in the FDA’s statement concerning their findings on e-cig risks, they explained DG as the primary ingredient in anti-freeze. The EPA paints a different picture, however. They state, “Some manufacturers promote a propylene glycol based solution (vs. ethylene glycol) which is less toxic.”
Either way, no matter which ingredient is active in the suspension, the stigma of antifreeze being dangerous actually comes from the fact that it is often disposed of improperly. This is only important because during service and use of the product, heavy metals contaminate the fluid (particularly dangerous is the lead contained in the metals). Yes, straight antifreeze is toxic, but its active ingredient is Ethylene Glycol and the main hazard stems from the heavy metals absorbed in used, recycled, or improperly discarded antifreeze.
The other stab the FDA took in their findings as at the presence of nitrosamines (carcinogens) in the electronic cigarette fluid. The type of tobacco specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) found are actually naturally occurring in nicotine produced from tobacco leaves. The presence of TSNAs then increases with the strength of nicotine in the cartridges, according to the Health New Zealand study. On average, the cartridges contain 3.928 parts per billion (also noted as Ng or ppb).
The breakdown is as follows: Nitrosamines In Cartridges: 0mg ” 0.260 Ng (ppb), 6mg ” 3.068 Ng, 11mg ” 4.200 Ng, 16mg ” 8.183 Ng. The highest amount found was in 16mg liquid, which had an average of 8.183 Ng. In comparison, Nicorette Gum (which is approved as an NRT) contains about 8 Ng. To put that number into perspective, Swedish moist snuff contains between 1000 and 2400 ppb nitrosamines, and unburned tobacco from cigarettes contains around 1230 ppb.
These findings are conveniently left out of the FDA’s statements to build their case for banning or regulating (read, making money from) their use and distribution.
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