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Vaping Pollutes You, Others and the Planet

The human health effects are alarming, and so are the effects on our planet’s health



Vaping liquid commonly pollutes the body with nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerin, flavorings, and other potentially toxic chemicals.1

Vaping aerosol often contains other harmful substances such as flavoring chemicals (like diacetyl, linked to lung disease), metals (like lead), and other cancer-causing chemicals.1

Vaping pollutes the air with nicotine and small particles.2

Vaping pollutes bystanders, much like secondhand smoke. E-cigarette vapor raises health risks for others, who inhale lingering vapor in the air and absorb nicotine.3

E-cigarettes pollute the land with single-use, disposable cartridges and other plastic and metal parts which can’t be recycled. Used e-cigs are often found littering public spaces.4

First-hand and second-hand aerosol vapor from e-cigarettes contains at least 10 chemicals on California’s Prop 65 list of carcinogens and reproductive toxins including: 

·       Acetaldehyde

·       Benzene

·       Cadmium

·       Formaldehyde

·       Isoprene

·       Lead

·       Nickel

·       Nicotine

·       N-nitrosonornicotine (NNN)

·       Toluene 5,6


Vaping aerosols have also been found to contain other carcinogens including chromium and tin nanoparticles,7 and poisonous diethylene glycol.8  

Toxic vapor from e-cigarettes can settle on surfaces such as floors and windows. This third-hand exposure on these surfaces may also expose others to nicotine.9


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1.       National Cancer Institute (2020). What we know about electronic cigarettes. Retrieved from

2.       Glantz, Stanton (2016). UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education: More evidence that e-cigarettes pollute the air and expose bystanders. Retrieved from:

3.       Glantz, Stanton (2014). Nonsmokers around e-cigs absorb nicotine at levels similar to passive cigarette smokers: Smoke-free should also be ecig-free. Retrieved from:

4.       Truth Initiative (2019). 3 Ways JUUL harms the environment. Retrieved from:

5.       Grana, R., Benowitz, N., & Glantz, S. A. (2013). Background paper on e-cigarettes. Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco and WHO Collaborating Center on Tobacco Control.

6.       Thornburg, J., Malloy, Q., Cho, S-H., Studabaker, W., & Lee, Y. (2015). Exhaled electronic cigarette emissions: What’s your secondhand exposure? Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press. RTI Press Publication No. RB-0008-1503

7.       Williams, M., Villarreal, A., Bozhilov, K., Lin, S., & Talbot, P. (2013). Metal and silicate particles including nanoparticles are present in electronic cigarette cartomizer fluid and aerosolPloS one8(3), e57987.

8.       Schripp, T., Markewitz, D., Uhde, E., & Salthammer, T. (2013). Does e-cigarette consumption cause passive vaping?. Indoor Air 23(1): 25-31.

Goniewicz, M.L. & Lee, L. (2014). Electronic cigarettes are a source of thirdhand exposure to nicotine. Nicotine and Tobacco Research [Epub ahead of print]. 

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