Secondhand Vaping and Its Effects
Today, most vapers have a general understanding that vaping isn't as harmful as some alarmists claim it can be. They're not exposing themselves to the harmful combustion-based chemicals that smoking releases, and they've noticed their breathing and overall health improve.
But what about those around them? Is the health of those exposed to secondhand vapor at risk?
If anything, the smell of secondhand vape is a treat compared to secondhand smoke. While some may complain about it, most can agree that they'd prefer to smell a rich caramel apple to the harsh odor of burning tobacco and ash. That's not to say that just because the smell is less offensive that people who don't want to be exposed to vapor should be forced to.
Anti-vape crusaders will use just about any means possible to discredit vaping. The typical line of defense is to say that "we just don't know enough," which is true. But we do know a lot about the dangers of smoking, as well as enough about the potential risks of vaping, to say that it's highly unlikely that vaping is even remotely as dangerous as smoking.
Secondhand vaping, while some claim we don't know much about, is actually pretty well understood. The short answer to whether or not it's dangerous is a resounding no. There isn't any currently existent evidence that suggests that secondhand vapor poses any risks to bystanders.
A study performed by Igor Burstyn over at Drexel University analyzed over 9,000 observations on e-cig vapor and provides some clarification on the matter.
Burstyn wanted to compare those who were exposed to e-cig vapor passively to those who were exposed to other everyday airborne compounds. He concluded that "there is no evidence to suggest vaping produces inhalable contaminants that would warrant health concerns." While those who are actually vaping are exposed to the ingredients of e-juice, "exposures of bystanders are likely to be orders of magnitude less, and thus pose no apparent concern." There is very little for vapers to be worried about in e-cig vape, and even less for people inhaling secondhand vapor.
Another review conducted by the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England, Nicotine Without Smoke, dismissed the issue of secondhand vapor. "There is, so far, no direct evidence that passive exposure is likely to cause harm…[while bystanders may be] exposed to passive nicotine..there is no plausible mechanism by which such deposits could enter the body at doses that would cause physical harm."
This passive nicotine exposure is what their study focused on. They found that e-cig exhalation contained eight times less nicotine than cigarette exhalation. The study also took into account "sidestream smoke" released by cigarettes from the end of the lit tip, regardless of whether the smoker is puffing or not. "[This] accounts for 85% of [harmful] passive smoking and there is no sidestream e-cig vapor." Finally, the study further found that there was a large amount of nicotine residue on surfaces in smokers homes, while the homes of vapers had significantly less residue, about 169 times lower than smokers.
Further studies have also looked into the issue. A collaboration between the Kaunas University of Technology in Lithuania, EMPA Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Fontem Ventures found that because e-cigarette vapor dissipates within seconds, breathing it passively poses very little to no risk.
Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos finds that "indoor air and normal exhaled breath contains more volative organic compounds (airborne toxins) than the e-cigarette aerosol," based on a study conducted by the Spanish Council of Scientific Research.
The bottom line is that scientists who have looked tirelessly for anything harmful in secondhand vapor haven't found anything, so there's no proven health risk that'll endanger the health of those who inhale passive vapor.
We vapers, though, shouldn't go around blowing clouds into the faces of friends, family, and strangers. Respect is the key to not only promoting the vape culture, but being human. We should be courteous and respect non-vapers' preference of not breathing in our cotton candy dragon breath. This will not only keep people as comfortable as they desire, but possibly change their view of vaping and its culture.