Comparison of the effects of e-cigarette vapor and cigarette smoke on indoor air quality

Inhal Toxicol. 2012 Oct;24(12):850-7. doi: 10.3109/08958378.2012.724728.


Context: Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have earned considerable attention recently as an alternative to smoking tobacco, but uncertainties about their impact on health and indoor air quality have resulted in proposals for bans on indoor e-cigarette use.

Objective: To assess potential health impacts relating to the use of e-cigarettes, a series of studies were conducted using e-cigarettes and standard tobacco cigarettes.

Methods and materials: Four different high nicotine e-liquids were vaporized in two sets of experiments by generic 2-piece e-cigarettes to collect emissions and assess indoor air concentrations of common tobacco smoke by products. Tobacco cigarette smoke tests were conducted for comparison.

Results: Comparisons of pollutant concentrations were made between e-cigarette vapor and tobacco smoke samples. Pollutants included VOCs, carbonyls, PAHs, nicotine, TSNAs, and glycols. From these results, risk analyses were conducted based on dilution into a 40 m³ room and standard toxicological data. Non-cancer risk analysis revealed "No Significant Risk" of harm to human health for vapor samples from e-liquids (A-D). In contrast, for tobacco smoke most findings markedly exceeded risk limits indicating a condition of "Significant Risk" of harm to human health. With regard to cancer risk analysis, no vapor sample from e-liquids A-D exceeded the risk limit for either children or adults. The tobacco smoke sample approached the risk limits for adult exposure.

Conclusions: For all byproducts measured, electronic cigarettes produce very small exposures relative to tobacco cigarettes. The study indicates no apparent risk to human health from e-cigarette emissions based on the compounds analyzed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Aldehydes / administration & dosage
  • Aldehydes / analysis
  • Aldehydes / toxicity
  • Child
  • Electrical Equipment and Supplies / adverse effects*
  • Glycols / administration & dosage
  • Glycols / adverse effects
  • Glycols / analysis
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects
  • Materials Testing / instrumentation
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage
  • Nicotine / adverse effects
  • Nicotine / analysis
  • Nitrosamines / administration & dosage
  • Nitrosamines / analysis
  • Nitrosamines / toxicity
  • Particle Size
  • Particulate Matter / administration & dosage
  • Particulate Matter / adverse effects
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / administration & dosage
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / toxicity
  • Risk Assessment
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / analysis
  • Tobacco Use Cessation Devices / adverse effects*
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / adverse effects
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis
  • Volatilization


  • Air Pollutants
  • Aldehydes
  • Glycols
  • Nitrosamines
  • Particulate Matter
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Nicotine