Trendy e-cigarettes enter Europe: chemical characterization of JUUL pods and its aerosols

Arch Toxicol. 2020 Jun;94(6):1985-1994. doi: 10.1007/s00204-020-02716-3. Epub 2020 Mar 18.


The popularity and the high nicotine content of the American pod e-cigarette JUUL have raised many concerns. To comply with European law, the nicotine concentration in the liquids of the European version, which has been recently released on the market, is limited to below 20 mg/mL. This limit can possibly be circumvented by technological adjustments that increase vaporization and consequently, elevate nicotine delivery. In this study, we compare vapor generation and nicotine delivery of the initial European version, a modified European version, and the original American high-nicotine variant using a machine vaping set-up. Additionally, benzoic acid and carbonyl compounds are quantified in the aerosol. Further, concentrations of nicotine, benzoic acid, propylene glycol, and glycerol, along with the density and pH value of JUUL e-liquids have been assessed. Whereas the initial European version did not compensate for the low nicotine content in the liquid, we provide evidence for an increased vaporization by the modified European version. As a consequence, nicotine delivery per puff approximates the American original. Notably, this is not associated with an increased generation of carbonyl compounds. Our data suggest a similar addictiveness of the enhanced European version and the original American product.

Keywords: Benzoic acid; Electronic cigarette; JUUL; Nicotine delivery; Nicotine salt; Vapor chemistry.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Consumer Product Safety
  • E-Cigarette Vapor / adverse effects
  • E-Cigarette Vapor / analysis*
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Nicotine / adverse effects
  • Nicotine / analysis*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / adverse effects
  • Nicotinic Agonists / analysis*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Vaping* / adverse effects


  • Aerosols
  • E-Cigarette Vapor
  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Nicotine