Ever since the FDA released a press statement saying their tests revealed traces of diethylene glycol in e-cigarette liquid, there’s been a rumor going around about e-cigs containing dangerous antifreeze ingredients. Is there any truth to that, and should you be worried? Well, yes, and no…
Let’s start at the beginning. In 2009, the American Food and Drug Administration tested just 18 e-liquid cartridges from 2 electronic cigarette companies, and was quick to report that one sample contained diethylene glycol, a chemical used in industrial antifreeze that is toxic to humans. What they forgot to mention was that the levels found in the examined cartridge were nearly untraceable (around 1%), and certainly nowhere near the danger level. Still, diethylene glycol is NOT an e-liquid ingredient, so it shouldn’t have been found at all. Because the dangerous substance was found in one of the 18 samples, and more recent tests failed to detect it in any other e-liquids, some experts concluded it might have been contaminated in some other way. You can be sure no reputable e-liquid vendor is going to sell toxic products. They do strict tests and have quality control in place to ensure only the purest of ingredients go into their e-cigarette juices. Today, four years after the FDA’s report, there have been no cases of diethylene glycol poisonings worldwide, so I think it’s fair to say it’s not a problem worth worrying about.
But e-liquid does usually contain an ingredient that’s also associated with antifreeze – propylene glycol. PG is sometimes used as an ingredient for antifreeze, but as an additive to make it less dangerous if accidentally swallowed. Propylene glycol does have a lower freezing point than water, but that doesn’t necessarily make it dangerous. In fact, PG is recognized as safe for human consumption by the FDA, and can be found in a variety of food additives and colorants, pharmaceutical inhalers or toothpaste. Also, if you own an RV and use it during the winter, you’ll be surprised to know that the water holding tank has propylene glycol in it to keep it from freezing. So yes, technically speaking, e-cigarettes can contain antifreeze, but not the dangerous industrial kind. Propylene glycol is safe, non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
Sadly, that hasn’t stopped anti-e-cigarette groups from spreading misinformation and causing panic among the general public. There are articles out there that actually list diethylene glycol as an e-liquid ingredient, which is just a big lie. The fact is electronic cigarettes are gaining in popularity and threaten to cut the profits of both the tobacco and pharmaceutical industry. You best believe they aren’t sitting around doing nothing as their revenues decrease. All these people making negative claims about e-cigarettes without offering hard facts aren’t really worried about your health, they have their own agenda. So please, don’t give into your fear, do some research and try to think for yourself.
Photo: Wikimdia Commons