Electronic cigarette solutions and resultant aerosol profiles

J Chromatogr A. 2015 Oct 30;1418:192-199. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2015.09.034. Epub 2015 Sep 15.


Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are growing in popularity exponentially. Despite their ever-growing acceptance, their aerosol has not been fully characterized. The current study focused on evaluating e-cigarette solutions and their resultant aerosol for potential differences. A simple sampling device was developed to draw e-cigarette aerosol into a multi-sorbent thermal desorption (TD) tube, which was then thermally extracted and analyzed via a gas chromatography (GC) mass spectrometry (GC-MS) method. This novel application provided detectable levels of over one hundred fifteen volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs) from a single 40mL puff. The aerosol profiles from four commercially available e-cigarettes were compared to their respective solution profiles with the same GC-MS method. Solution profiles produced upwards of sixty four unidentified and identified (some only tentatively) constituents and aerosol profiles produced upwards of eighty two compounds. Results demonstrated distinct analyte profiles between liquid and aerosol samples. Most notably, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein, and siloxanes were found in the aerosol profiles; however, these compounds were never present in the solutions. These results implicate the aerosolization process in the formation of compounds not found in solutions; have potential implications for human health; and stress the need for an emphasis on electronic cigarette aerosol testing.

Keywords: Aerosol; E-cigarette; Electronic cigarette; Thermal desorption; Vapor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetaldehyde / analysis
  • Acrolein / analysis
  • Aerosols
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems* / adverse effects
  • Formaldehyde / analysis
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Humans
  • Siloxanes / analysis
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis*


  • Aerosols
  • Siloxanes
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Formaldehyde
  • Acrolein
  • Acetaldehyde