Particulate matter in aerosols produced by two last generation electronic cigarettes: a comparison in a real-world environment

Pulmonology. 2021 Apr 17;S2531-0437(21)00079-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pulmoe.2021.03.005. Online ahead of print.


The design of e-cigarettes (e-cigs) is constantly evolving and the latest models can aerosolize using high-power sub-ohm resistance and hence may produce specific particle concentrations. The aim of this study was to evaluate the aerosol characteristics generated by two different types of electronic cigarette in real-world conditions, such as a sitting room or a small office, in number of particles (particles/cm3). We compared the real time and time-integrated measurements of the aerosol generated by the e-cigarette types Just Fog and JUUL. Real time (10s average) number of particles (particles/cm3) in 8 different aerodynamic sizes was measured using an optical particle counter (OPC) model Profiler 212-2. Tests were conducted with and without a Heating, Ventilating Air Conditioning System (HVACS) in operation, in order to evaluate the efficiency of air filtration. During the vaping sessions the OPC recorded quite significant increases in number of particles/cm3. The JUUL e-cig produced significantly lower emissions than Just Fog with and without the HVACS in operation. The study demonstrates the rapid volatility or change from liquid or semi-liquid to gaseous status of the e-cig aerosols, with half-life in the order of a few seconds (min. 4.6, max 23.9), even without the HVACS in operation. The e-cig aerosol generated by the JUUL proved significantly lower than that generated by the Just Fog, but this reduction may not be sufficient to eliminate or consistently reduce the health risk for vulnerable non e-cig users exposed to it.

Keywords: Electronic cigarette; Particle number; Particulate matter; Second-hand aerosol exposure.