E-cigarette flavourings 'can be harmful' according to study

A study has found e-cigarette flavourings could contain harmful chemicals. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Flavourings used in e-cigarettes contain high levels of chemicals which can be potentially harmful and cause respiratory problems according to a new study.

The study carried out in the United States analysed the chemicals used to flavour e-cigarette fluid in a sample of 30 products, and found a "significant" number were aldehydes - compounds which are recognised to be primary respiratory irritants.

Researchers warned that although some flavours, such as coffee, bubble gum and cherry are mostly the same as those found in food and have therefore passed safety tests, this applies to them being eaten rather than inhaled.

The study quoted a recent report that found an "astonishing 7,764 unique flavour names" available online in January 2014, with 242 new flavours being added a month and sales occurring under 466 brands.

The array of e-cigarette products is vast and growing daily as such, this study was unable to provide a comprehensive overview of the levels of flavour chemicals in such products currently on the market. Nevertheless, the results obtained are likely to be similar to what a broad survey would have revealed, and in any case strongly suggest that very high levels of some flavour chemicals are undoubtedly present in a great number of the thousands of products currently available. Regulatory actions that should be considered include requiring ingredient identification, limiting levels of some individual flavour chemicals, and limiting total levels of flavour chemicals. >

Researchers at Portland State University in Oregon