Influence of electronic cigarette vaping on the composition of indoor organic pollutants, particles, and exhaled breath of bystanders

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2019 Feb;26(5):4654-4666. doi: 10.1007/s11356-018-3975-x. Epub 2018 Dec 18.


The changes of particles and organic pollutants in indoor atmospheres as consequence of vaping with electronic cigarettes have been analyzed. Changes in the composition of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in exhaled breath of non-smoking volunteers present in the vaping environments have also been studied. The exposure experiments involved non-vaping (n = 5) and vaping (n = 5) volunteers staying 12 h together in a room (54 m2) without external ventilation. The same experiment was repeated without vaping for comparison. Changes in the distributions of particles in the 8-400 nm range were observed, involving losses of nucleation-mode particles (below 20 nm) and increases of coagulation processes leading to larger size particles. In quantitative terms, vaping involved doubling the indoor concentrations of particles smaller than 10 μm, 5 μm, and 1 μm observed during no vaping. The increase of particle mass concentrations was probably produced from bulk ingredients of the e-liquid exhaled by the e-cigarette users. Black carbon concentrations in the indoor and outdoor air were similar in the presence and absence of electronic cigarette emissions. Changes in the qualitative composition of PAHs were observed when comparing vaping and non-vaping days. The nicotine concentrations were examined separately in the gas and in the particulate phases showing that most of the differences between both days were recorded in the former. The particulate phase should therefore be included in nicotine monitoring during vaping (and smoking). The concentration increases of nicotine and formaldehyde were small when compared with those described in other studies of indoor atmospheres or health regulatory thresholds. No significant changes were observed when comparing the concentrations of exhaled breath in vaping and no vaping days. Even the exhaled breath nicotine concentrations in both conditions were similar. As expected, toluene, xylenes, benzene, ethylbenzene, and naphthalene did not show increases in the vaping days since combustion was not involved.

Keywords: Atmospheric particles; Black carbon; Electronic cigarettes; Exhaled breath; Formaldehyde; Indoor air pollution; Nicotine; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; Vaping; Volatile organic compounds.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Exhalation
  • Female
  • Formaldehyde / analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / analysis
  • Particle Size
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis
  • Soot / analysis
  • Vaping
  • Ventilation
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Soot
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Formaldehyde
  • Nicotine