Evaluation of Second-Hand Exposure to Electronic Cigarette Vaping under a Real Scenario: Measurements of Ultrafine Particle Number Concentration and Size Distribution and Comparison with Traditional Tobacco Smoke

Toxics. 2019 Nov 25;7(4):59. doi: 10.3390/toxics7040059.


The present study aims to evaluate the impact of e-cig second-hand aerosol on indoor air quality in terms of ultrafine particles (UFPs) and potential inhalation exposure levels of passive bystanders. E-cig second-hand aerosol characteristics in terms of UFPs number concentration and size distribution exhaled by two volunteers vaping 15 different e-liquids inside a 49 m3 room and comparison with tobacco smoke are discussed. High temporal resolution measurements were performed under natural ventilation conditions to simulate a realistic exposure scenario. Results showed a systematic increase in UFPs number concentration (part cm-3) related to a 20-min vaping session (from 6.56 × 103 to 4.01 × 104 part cm-3), although this was one up to two order of magnitude lower than that produced by one tobacco cigarette consumption (from 1.12 × 105 to 1.46 × 105 part cm-3). E-cig second-hand aerosol size distribution exhibits a bimodal behavior with modes at 10.8 and 29.4 nm in contrast with the unimodal typical size distribution of tobacco smoke with peak mode at 100 nm. In the size range 6-26 nm, particles concentration in e-cig second-hand aerosol were from 2- (Dp = 25.5 nm) to 3800-fold (Dp = 9.31 nm) higher than in tobacco smoke highlighting that particles exhaled by users and potentially inhaled by bystanders are nano-sized with high penetration capacity into human airways.

Keywords: electronic cigarettes; indoor air quality; second-hand aerosol; size distribution; tobacco smoke; ultrafine particles.