Vaping and Health


But, Vaping was studied for so long before coming to the market. The chemicals used are well documented and regulated thoroughly.


Nothing about the scales used in that article make sense: 94 to 153 cases in the previous month? Year? Compared to last year? Why are there only 16 states involved in the study? How does this chart to a wider timeframe? Is this an increase in the overall cases in a rolling year? Is this a contaminated batch of something (as the article heavily implies but never states) or within the margin of error for the sample size? Are we talking lung cancer? Pneumonia? A particularly nasty cough?


From the CDC:

  • As of 5:00 p.m., August 22, 193 potential cases of severe lung illness associated with e-cigarette product use had been reported by 22 states (CA, CT, IL, IN, IA, MN, MI, NC, NJ, NM, NY, PA, TX, UT, WI, and additional states pending verification). These were reported between June 28th and August 20th of this year.

It’s not a study; these are the states which are reporting incidences of these illnesses.

I would assume so, or it wouldn’t be a story.

Again, per CDC:

  • CDC and states have not identified a cause, but all reported cases have e-cigarette product use or “vaping.”
  • Available evidence does not suggest that an infectious disease is the principal cause of the illness.
    • Investigators have not identified any specific product or compound that is linked to all cases.
      • In many cases, patients reported a gradual start of symptoms including breathing difficulty, shortness of breath, and/or chest pain before hospitalization. Some cases reported mild to moderate gastrointestinal illness including vomiting and diarrhea and fatigue as well.
      • In many cases, patients have acknowledged recent use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products while speaking to healthcare personnel or in follow-up interviews by health department staff; however, no specific product has been identified in all cases, nor has any product been conclusively linked to illnesses.
  • Even though cases appear similar, it is not clear if these cases have a common cause or if they are different diseases with similar presentations. The State Departments of Health are investigating the possible cause of the illness by testing patient specimens and e-cigarette products. State-specific epidemiologic investigations are ongoing.

And yet:

I’m genuinely on the look out for decent data that might help me reassess vaping as “less harmful” than tobacco but this really isn’t it. There are so many holes in the data (even from the CDC) that my first thought isn’t “oh man, that’s awful” but “oh, so Philip Morris are still trying to preserve their market share through half truths, then?”

A one-month rise in a tiny sample set isn’t data, it’s an interesting anomaly that might be worth studying but isn’t meaningful as reportage.


User name checks out.

Well, sure, 200 illnesses over two months is nowhere near the 480,000 smoking-related deaths that tobacco causes per year.

I don’t get what you mean by this. It may not be enough data to draw a meaningful conclusion from, but it’s definitely “data.”


I meant that in a sarcastic sense, as in “one observation isn’t data.”

I assume you’ve heard the statisticians’ quip that “ice cream causes drowning”? For all the information that we have from the article and the CDC, this “trend” might well be tied into an uptick in people who were already at high risk of lung disease switching to vaping, and the data actually represents a fall-off in corresponding cases of lung disease. Hell, it might even be a lower than expected number of cases of respiratory disease caused by summer inhalation of pesticides.

We have so little information about the numbers it’s not really “data” in a meaningful sense. I can give you a random number that isn’t tied to anything else, and while it might represent a single piece of data in the exchange between you and me, actually calling it “data” feels kind of silly.

Thanks, I chose it for a reason. Sometimes I worry that I’m going soft in my old age though, so it’s nice to have some affirmation… :smiley: :+1:


The other story I saw about this was about the first death linked to vaping.

The release also says the number of people who have experienced respiratory illness after vaping doubled to 22 in the past week.

Whether doubling in a week, or increasing 60% in 5 days, it strikes me as most likely to be some contaminant or bad batch, rather than something fundamental about vaping, which people have been doing for years now. I’m curious to see what they find from it. So far there seems to be nothing to indicate that vaping is much more dangerous than eating salad (which sometimes gets recalled for causing outbreaks of e. coli or such).


Yet sitting near someone vaping still gives me headaches, same as sitting near someone smoking a cigarette does (interestingly, cigars and pipes never seem to bother me).

Vape still has formaldehyde and other crap in it. People get too focused on nicotine.

“People have been vaping for years” is no indicator of safety. If that were true, coal dust, asbestos, and lead would all be safe.


I make my own vape liquid with a base of 70% glycerine and 30% propylene glycol. To 80ml of the base solution, I add 20ml of 36mg/ml nicotinyl salicylate (in a solution that is only glycerine, propylene glycol and nicotine salts) and a few drops of food-safe flavouring. That’s literally all the ingredients.

I’m sure there are dodgy pre-made vape liquids out there (like there’s booze out there that will make you go blind) but there’s nothing in the base ingredients that is particularly dangerous or even that unusual.

My guess is it’s the propylene that gives you irritation, as it’s mostly in there to give a bit of “bite” to the vape, so it doesn’t feel like you’re breathing air and nothing else. It makes Mrs Cynical cough if I completely bong out a room, but the effect is much, much less than if I were to do the same with smoke.

I’m sure it’s not good for me but having lung capacity, a functioning sense of smell and taste, and clothes that don’t stink are enough reason for me to appreciate it after twenty years as a smoker.


No offense, but that’d trigger my nicotine allergy and nsaid/salicylate sensitivity.

Gadgetgirl, do you have similar allergies?


None taken. The nicotine and the steam is going to be an irritant for some people and I’m careful to avoid blowing it at others wherever possible.

That said, pollen makes me sneeze and gives me a headache, but that doesn’t mean that flowers contain formaldehyde…


It’s the propylene glycol that changes to formaldehyde when heated. Yes there’s debate over whether it’s enough to be harmful, but it’s not correct to claim it isn’t there:


Scientific American should be ashamed of themselves for adding the word “Dangerous” in that headline. It’s really misleading.

Aspartame has been demonized (by the conspiracy-minded) for creating formaldehyde when ingested. The levels have been shown to be so low, however, that it isn’t a problem; formaldehyde is a created from the metabolism of many foods, in higher concentrations in some cases. Here’s a Snopes article about it.

So I wonder about the quoted study. The rate of formaldehyde formation at the highest voltage may still be below a toxic level.

It’s great that @Cynical gave up smoking (which we know is dangerous) for something probably less so, and for making the fluid at home. At least you know what’s in it! Is there a way to do it with water and flavoring only? Or doesn’t that give the same experience?

The reason I ask is though glycerine is safe as anything to ingest, but elsewhere in the body I wonder.


That’s a really interesting article; thank you for sharing it.

I’m using a 200w battery that I have set to 50w because anything higher than 60w will fry the coils that I’m using. If my understanding is correct, setting it to 35w rather than 50w on a 0.5ohm coil will reduce the voltage from 0.5 to 0.35, which should negate the problem. Is that correct?

There seems to be zero difference in the “quality” of the steam that is produced at 35w rather than 50w, but it takes slightly longer (a quarter of a second or so) to get a lung full. I’m still not entirely convinced there’s a huge difference there, but I’m neither a chemist nor a physicist, so I don’t have the maths to back any of this up.

Does anyone with a better knowledge of ohm’s law than myself want to pipe up here?

ETA: this thread has become hugely derailed. @ChickieD could we split this discussion off, please?


Thanks for the shoutout. New topic - voila!


dimly remembered high school physics says power is proportional to voltage squared


Haven’t tried, but from what I’ve read:
a) water would make the coil rust, which would be unhealthy to inhale
b) it would make the vapor scalding steam which would burn your insides when you inhaled it
c) it wouldn’t carry the flavoring like the oils do but instead dilute it


V = potential in volts
I = current in amps
R = resistance in ohms
P = power in watts

V = IR
I = V/R

P = VI
P = V²/R

So does 35 watts = 0.35v * 0.35v / 0.5ohms ?

0.35²/0.5 = 0.1225/0.5 = 0.245 watts (not 35)

So something’s wrong; possibly me.

ETA: It seems to me that the order of magnitude of 0.245 watts makes more sense to me. Does a vaping device really use almost as much wattage as a 40 watt bulb?


Yeah, breathing steam might not be a good idea. But isn’t that happening anyway? (Obviously I know nothing about vaping, so I guess I shouldn’t talk about things I know nothing about!)

P=IR stuff I sort of remember from college, though.