Do E-cigs Contain Benzene?
Do E-cigs Contain Benzene?
If you’ve been reading the news lately (especially in vaping circles), then you’ve doubtlessly heard a rumor going around that E-cigs contain benzene.
But is it true? And if it is, what does it mean?
Information! As it turns out, there might be some merit to it. To be honest, there have only been a couple of studies done that have shown anything like this – but there has been at least one documented case of benzene showing up in E-cig smoke once the E-liquid got heated to a certain temperature.
What is benzene?
Benzene is, according to cancer.org, “a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor.” It is also among the twenty most widely-used chemicals in the US to-date, and is utilized in the making of chemicals, lubricants, rubbers, dyes, drugs, detergents, plastics, and pesticides.
It is a known carcinogen – recognized as such by many of the leading health organizations in the world.
But can it be found in E-cigs?
Here’s some information that might at least partially answer that question for you.
Washingtonpost.com had this to say about benzene in E-cigs on their official website.
“A UC San Francisco researcher claims that 10 chemicals on California’s annual list of known carcinogens can be found in e-cig vapor, including benzene, formaldehyde, lead and toluene.” – Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2014/04/24/seven-things-you-should-know-about-e-cigarettes/
However, it might be important to note that this statement was accompanied with a link that was supposed to go to the source of the statement. But when I clicked on the link, I was taken to a page with nothing on it. I repeated this several times and got no better results – so whether the link was just broken or the alleged research was taken down, I’m not sure.
This statement was made on a website called projectalert.com.
“…the mainstream and secondhand e-cigarette aerosol has been found to contain at least ten chemicals that are on California’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm including acetaldehyde, benzene…formaldehyde…” – Source: http://www.projectalert.com/newsletters/spring-2015/the-latest-on-health-impacts
I traced this statement back to the source – which ended up being cdph.ca.gov, or the ‘CA.GOV’ website for the government of California. You can visit the page that I’m referring to here: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/NR15-12.aspx .
While on this page, I found an advisory letter issued by the ‘California Department of Public Health’, titled ‘HEALTH ADVISORY – January 28, 2015. Electronic Cigarettes: A Summary of the Public Health Risks and Recommendations for Health Care Professionals.’
It had this to say about the existence of benzene in electronic cigarettes.
“While several studies found lower levels of carcinogens in the e-cigarette aerosol compared to smoke emitted by traditional cigarettes, both the mainstream and secondhand ecigarette aerosol have been found to contain at least ten chemicals that are on California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, including acetaldehyde, benzene, cadmium, formaldehyde, isoprene, lead, nickel, nicotine, n-nitrosonornicotine, and toluene.” – Source attached as PDF’s.
Attention! While this statement seems to be pretty legitimate in origin, it also appears that specific information on exact benzene levels in E-cigs isn’t available – aside from the fact that the statement specified that they were ‘lower levels… compared to smoke emitted by traditional cigarettes’.
Next come a few questions that are more complicated to answer. Is benzene prevalent enough in E-cig vapor to warrant caution? Does it still show up in the vapor even if you vape at a lower temperature? Is there benzene in all E-cig smoke, or are some brands/types different than others in this regard?
I’m afraid that most of these questions are, at the moment, too difficult for someone who isn’t a scientist to answer. I definitely hope that we will eventually get some satisfactory resolutions to these queries in the somewhat near future, as safety should always be a number-one priority when you’re dealing with anything that’s put into the body.
In any case, benzene definitely isn’t a product that you’d want to absorb into your body if you could help it. There’s no doubt that you’re getting less of it with E-cigs than with tobacco cigarettes – but only future studies will be able to give us specific information regarding any ‘absolute’ levels of safety.