E-cigarette nicotine deposition and persistence on glass and cotton surfaces

J Occup Environ Hyg. 2019 May;16(5):349-354. doi: 10.1080/15459624.2019.1581366. Epub 2019 Mar 14.


Nicotine from electronic cigarette aerosol will deposit on surfaces immediately after vaping, but how long deposited nicotine will persist on various surfaces is unknown. This work exposed glass and terrycloth (cotton) materials to electronic cigarette aerosols for 1 hr, assessed the initial nicotine sorption, and characterized surface persistence over a 72-hr period. Exponential decay of surface concentration was observed for both materials. Terrycloth had higher initial nicotine deposition and retained nicotine substantially longer than glass. Residual nicotine concentrations persisted on both surface types for 72 hr. Statistical modeling predicted surface concentrations to reach background levels after 4 and 16 days for glass and terrycloth, respectively. Nicotine persistence was long enough to pose a potential thirdhand nicotine exposure risk, and reactions to produce tobacco-specific nitrosamines may be possible from nicotine deposition from electronic cigarette aerosols, but further study is needed.

Keywords: Chamber tests; deposition study; indoor air quality; thirdhand nicotine exposure.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis
  • Cotton Fiber / analysis
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Glass / chemistry
  • Nicotine / analysis*
  • Nicotine / chemistry
  • Vaping*


  • Aerosols
  • Nicotine