Is Second-hand Vaping Harmful?


It seems the human condition to be reckless, to ignore the consequences. Even the safest of  people take risks from time to time; it is part of life. So, it is not terribly surprising that people still smoke, despite the many known health risks. But what about vaping, the newer, “safer” version? It will come as no new news to many that vaping may not be as safe as it has been advertised “People abuse [vape],” said School Nurse Raffaela Careccia. Diacetyl, a chemical known to cause the disease commonly resulting in “popcorn lung,” formerly bronchiolitis obliterans, has been found to be present in 39 of the 51 flavored e-cigarettes tested by authors Joseph G Allen, Sky S. Flanigan, Mallory LeBlanc, Jose Vallarino, Piers MacNaughton, James H. Stewart and David C. Christiani in their research paper entitled “Flavoring Chemicals in E-Cigarette” supported by National Institutes of Health.  Jury’s still out, [on vaping]” says Dr Linda Carmine who also talked about the mix of chemicals in the e-cigarettes, making it hard to identify what is causing problemsCarmine said that the inhalation of oil is causing a toxic reaction in lungs.  

. . . that vapor, if there’s a lot of it in the vicinity you are vaping essentially. ”

— Dr Linda Levin Carmine, Associate Professor, Affiliate of Northwell Health, phone interview.

Unfortunately, for many people, this news will fall on deaf ears. But what may be more ear catching is the possible harm to those exposed to second-hand vapingLHS Nurse Cathy Hetrick says, “Just like cigarettes, second-hand smoke is very dangerous.” Is secondhand vaping a health risk? To find the answer, it is helpful to first look at why secondhand smoking is dangerous. The article “The Effects of Secondhand Smoke” on WebMD’s website says that when smoking, most of the smoke enters the air, and is then likely to be breathed in by others nearby. So, does the same apply to vaping? Vaping is described by the Center of Addictions as “…the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor, that consists of fine particles.” For now, let us zero in on that aerosol. 

 Aerosol is particles suspended in gas, simpleWhat, if any is the danger from secondhand aerosolThe article “Systemic Absorption of Nicotine Following Acute Secondhand Exposure to Electronic Cigarette Aerosol in a Realistic Social Setting” from Science Direct (This article specifically looks at e-cigarettes that contain nicotine) compared the before and after levels of cotinine, a substance present in nicotine that is useful in determining exposure to it, in various bodily fluids of non-users before and after second-hand exposure. The study concluded “… nonusers can systemically absorb nicotine following acute exposure to secondhand e-cigarette aerosol. This can particularly affect sensitive sub-populations, such as children and women of reproductive age.” The last statement is very relevant since many e-cigarettes have flavors targeting children, Careccia saying she “can’t believe companies make things geared towards adolescents.”  

These findings clearly indicate that using e-cigarettes can negatively affect those around you. While findings continue to come out, it is important to consider how one’s decisions could affect others. Of seven surveyed students from LHS, four said they would not stop hanging around vapers, even at risk to their own health. Deciding to smoke or vape is not just going to harm you, it could cause lasting damage to those you love and care about. If you make a choice, make an educated one, consider that you are not the only one effected by it.