Cigarettes vs. e-cigarettes: Passive exposure at home measured by means of airborne marker and biomarkers

Environ Res. 2014 Nov;135:76-80. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2014.09.005. Epub 2014 Sep 27.

Abstract

Background: There is scarce evidence about passive exposure to the vapour released or exhaled from electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) under real conditions. The aim of this study is to characterise passive exposure to nicotine from e-cigarettes' vapour and conventional cigarettes' smoke at home among non-smokers under real-use conditions.

Methods: We conducted an observational study with 54 non-smoker volunteers from different homes: 25 living at home with conventional smokers, 5 living with nicotine e-cigarette users, and 24 from control homes (not using conventional cigarettes neither e-cigarettes). We measured airborne nicotine at home and biomarkers (cotinine in saliva and urine). We calculated geometric mean (GM) and geometric standard deviations (GSD). We also performed ANOVA and Student's t tests for the log-transformed data. We used Bonferroni-corrected t-tests to control the family error rate for multiple comparisons at 5%.

Results: The GMs of airborne nicotine were 0.74 μg/m(3) (GSD=4.05) in the smokers' homes, 0.13 μg/m(3) (GSD=2.4) in the e-cigarettes users' homes, and 0.02 μg/m(3) (GSD=3.51) in the control homes. The GMs of salivary cotinine were 0.38 ng/ml (GSD=2.34) in the smokers' homes, 0.19 ng/ml (GSD=2.17) in the e-cigarettes users' homes, and 0.07 ng/ml (GSD=1.79) in the control homes. Salivary cotinine concentrations of the non-smokers exposed to e-cigarette's vapour at home (all exposed ≥ 2 h/day) were statistically significant different that those found in non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke ≥ 2 h/day and in non-smokers from control homes.

Conclusions: The airborne markers were statistically higher in conventional cigarette homes than in e-cigarettes homes (5.7 times higher). However, concentrations of both biomarkers among non-smokers exposed to conventional cigarettes and e-cigarettes' vapour were statistically similar (only 2 and 1.4 times higher, respectively). The levels of airborne nicotine and cotinine concentrations in the homes with e-cigarette users were higher than control homes (differences statistically significant). Our results show that non-smokers passively exposed to e-cigarettes absorb nicotine.

Keywords: Biological markers; Electronic cigarette; Electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS); Tobacco smoke pollution.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Cotinine / analysis
  • Cotinine / urine
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / adverse effects*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Nicotine / analysis
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Spain
  • Tobacco Products / adverse effects*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / analysis*

Substances

  • Biomarkers
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Nicotine
  • Cotinine