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Formaldehyde in e-vapor

Discussion in 'Health, Safety and Vaping' started by pmos69, Mar 13, 2013.

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  1. pmos69

    pmos69 Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jan 19, 2011
    Does anyone know what is the influence of temperature in the break down of PG into formaldehyde?

    Apparently there is also a process for VG to turn into formaldehyde, but it may be different. (oxidation or hydrolysis of glycerin?).

    The questions arise from the recent studies that detected formaldehyde in e-cigs but with big variations between e-cig brands.

    It would be important to determine the important factors in the generation of formaldehyde so better design choices could be made.

    Formaldehyde is definitely something that should be avoided as much as possible.
  2. Cyprus

    Cyprus Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jan 30, 2013
    I would very much like to see what people can add &/or clarify on this topic as well...I will be following this thread.
  3. ninfreak

    ninfreak Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 18, 2011
    burkesville, kentucky
    the temps needed to cause this are unobtainable with vaping gear. as long as the wick is wet you are keeping vg/pg at or under boiling point. there may be trace amounts of things like this in nic due to how nic is extracted. you would probably stop vaping if you knew the chemicals used to extract nic if you are this concerned about what the fda is "claiming" they found in nic juice, which as far as im concerned is fear mongering and nothing but, or a sign of china quality control......which these tests where conducted on chinese liquids not u.s. liquids
  4. YKruss

    YKruss Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Apr 21, 2009
    Springfield, VA
  5. pmos69

    pmos69 Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jan 19, 2011
    No, not because of any FDA claim.
    Recent vapor studies have found formaldehyde on e-cig vapor. See the previous post for an example.
    The amounts found vary a lot between different e-cig models/brands, and can get to relatively high values (about half of what is found in cigarette smoke, on some models).
    Those differences have got to have some cause in different characteristics of the e-cig models and/or liquids tested, be it coil temperatures, different PG/VG ratios, different e-cig materials, possible contaminations, etc.
    It is in everyone's best interest to find the causes of formaldehyde generation causes in e-cigs and minimize them.
  6. Bookworm

    Bookworm Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jul 16, 2012
    I am curious about this as well. After reading that article this morning, I would really like to know more about what causes this.
  7. Woundtite

    Woundtite Full Member

    Oct 27, 2012
    Nashville, Tennessee
    I too am interested in finding out more on this topic. I agree with pmos69 that it's in everyones best interest to know more on this subject. The studies I've read always seem to suspect glycerin (PG/VG) as a possible hazard. Don't get me wrong, as a former 35 year smoker, I in no way believe that vaping can do anywhere near the harm to our body that cigarettes do. I just sometimes wonder if there is an alternative to glycerin. Maybe a plant extract, or natural oil that has simular atributes (vaporization/evaporation) to glycerin.
  8. pmos69

    pmos69 Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jan 19, 2011
    No info on this from any bright minds in the forum?
    I tried some searches but until now only found generic references to the fact that heating PG to high temperatures produces formaldehyde without concrete info about the temperatures.
  9. pmos69

    pmos69 Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jan 19, 2011
  10. MorpheusPA

    MorpheusPA Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Sep 7, 2012
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    The only hint I can find is that methane burns to formaldehyde (interim) at 250 C. Which doesn't help when talking about propylene glycol...

    I'd be interested in more information as well. Anything I can do to limit formaldehyde exposure would be a Good Thing.
  11. Uncle Willie

    Uncle Willie Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

  12. yvilla

    yvilla Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Nov 18, 2008
    Rochester, NY
    Dr. Mike and those suspecting PG in the formation of formaldehyde appear to be wrong. The particular study mentioned here does not specify the specific makeup (or PG versus glycerin content) of the liquids studied.

    BUT, many of the same authors are presenting a paper at the SRNT meeting in Boston this week that DOES. And from the following it is pretty clear that indeed it is glycerin, and not PG, that is associated with formaldhyde (and acrolein) being found in vapor:


    Andrzej Sobczak, Ph.D.*1,2, Leon Kosmider1,2, Maciej L. Goniewicz, Ph.D.3,4, Jakub
    Knysak2, Marzena Zaciera, Ph.D.5, and Jolanta Kurek5, 1Institute of Occupational
    Medicine and Environmental Health, Sosnowiec, Poland; 2Medical University
    of Silesia, Katowice, Poland;3Queen Mary University of London, UK; 4Roswell
    Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, USA; 5Institute of Occupational Medicine and
    Environmental Health, Sosnowiec, Poland

    Significance: Electronic cigarettes (ECs) are purported to deliver nicotine vapor
    without any toxic substances generated from tobacco combustion. However, using
    ECs involves heating a nicotine solution to high temperatures. This may induce
    chemical reactions which result in the possible formation of carbonyl compounds
    (CCs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Many CCs and VOCs are common
    tobacco-specific toxicants with proven carcinogenic and cardiotoxic properties. Aim
    of the study:The aim of the study was to quantify and compare the levels of selected
    CCs (formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein, acetone, propanal, butanal) and VOCs
    (benzene, toluene, etylobenzene and ortho-, meta-, para-xylene) in EC nicotine
    refill solutions, vapors generated from ECs,and mainstream smoke from tobacco
    cigarettes. Methods: Six commercially available nicotine refill solutions for ECs
    (Chic Group Ltd. Poland) were examined. Three solutions contained a mixture of
    propylene glycol and glycerin (Volish brand) as a solvent for nicotine, while the
    other three contained only propylene glycol (Mild brand). Thirtypuffs were taken
    using an automatic smoking machine. Mainstream smoke was generated from
    a3R4F reference tobacco cigarette. CCs were extracted from vapor and smoke to
    solid phase with 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine, and analyzed using HPLC/DAD. VOCs
    were absorbed on activated carbon and analyzed with GC/MS. Results:Traces of
    acetaldehyde were detected in all examined EC solutions(0.081±0.042 μg/mL).
    Acetaldehyde was found in all EC vapors (0.153±0.116 μg/30 puffs), but at levels
    more than a thousand-fold lower than in tobacco smoke. Formaldehyde and acrolein
    were only found in vapors generated from glycerin-based solutions (0.116±0.022
    and0.110±0.190μg/30 puffs) and in tobacco smoke (12 and 32-fold higher levels,
    None of the examined VOCs were detected in the vapors, while all
    were found in tobacco smoke. Conclusions: In contrast to tobacco smoke, the
    vapors generated from ECs does not contain VOCs. Exposure to CCs from ECs is
    significantly reduced compared to tobacco smoke and may be attributable to the
    glycerin content in the nicotine refill solution.
  13. Bookworm

    Bookworm Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jul 16, 2012
    Thanks for posting this. It puts my mind at ease quite a bit. May be time to lower my vg a bit, though.
  14. patkin

    patkin Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    Arizona USA
    I am +4 allergic to formaldehyde (severe and instant reaction and tested for it) and have had problems with cosmetics, paneling (shopping for an RV in summer heat,) etc and have no problems with pg in vaping.
  15. vsummer1

    vsummer1 Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Aug 3, 2012
    The human body produces formaldehyde. It is carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.

    I would like to see the tests run on the exhalation WITHOUT the vape as it is my understanding that you will detect it.

    Harpocrates Speaks: Demystifying Vaccine Ingredients - Formaldehyde

    What many people may not know is that our own bodies produce and use formaldehyde as a part of our normal metabolism (Final Report on Carcinogens Background Document for Formaldehyde[PDF], 2010). When we are exposed to methanol (e.g., via inhalation or ingestion of foods like citric fruits and juices, vegetables or fermented beverages), our bodies break it down into formaldehyde and other byproducts. Our bodies produce formaldehyde as a result of DNA demethylation (animportant process for controlling gene expression, e.g., in developing embryos) and other biological processes. It is such a regular part of human metabolism, that our normal, naturally produced blood concentrations are generally about 2-3μg of formaldehyde per gram of blood (or about 2.12-3.18μg/mL)*. And it is actually a pretty important chemical; our bodies use formaldehyde to form DNA and amino acids (Toxicological Profile for Formaldehyde [PDF],
  16. pmos69

    pmos69 Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jan 19, 2011
    As with most things, it's all a question of how much of the substance is there.
    ex: I'm not worried about the amounts of dihydrogen monoxide detected in e-cig vapor for example, as I know the concentrations found are not enough to cause harm.
  17. Berylanna

    Berylanna Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Two things:

    1. I heat then filter dihydrogen monoxide through charred beans before drinking.

    2. Lots of us use a mixture of PG/VG, and rebuild our own wicks, and use different wattages, and I'm sure the cleaning regimens and wattage vary a lot between users and even between stressful times vs. relaxed times. So if we have the choice of 1/10 of the ormaldehyde found in cigarettes vs. 1/2, I'd sure like to know whether I should be cleaning more often vs. breaking-in new wicks, etc.

    For example, I need a higher voltage once my coil gets pretty caked up, but I'm too lazy to change it until the flavor starts going away.

    Am I making things worse for myself or saving my behind? Could be either! If we can get someone to look into this for us, I'd donate $100. Others could maybe donate $5. Maybe we could ask Dr. Collins for a research connection.
  18. Faylool

    Faylool Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Berylanna. My daughters middle name Beryl. What's yours about? Saving thread to my posts too to check back
  19. TomCatt

    TomCatt Da Catt Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Mar 8, 2011
    Upland, PA
    They need to go back to the lab and develop a new method for testing for acrolein, if this isn't a typo. :blink:

    0.110 +/-0.190

    If I had ever reported such a result to my boss when I was doing analytical work, he would have probably given me a Jethro Gibbs smack up side the head.
  20. tenshi

    tenshi Super Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jan 6, 2013
    United States
    Indoor air that contains formaldehyde should be below 123 μg/m3 in order for it to be safe.... below 50 μg/m3 shows no adverse affects. A typical home contains formaldehyde levels of 20-40 μg/m3. Another example, a southern California study measured an average formaldehyde concentration of 15.3 µg/m3 while in a vehicle.

    According to what was posted here in this study, looking at the Supplementary table, they found 0.06 μg/m3 in this study just barely above the limit of detection which was 0.01 μg/m3...

    So vape on :vapor:
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