Chemical Insights, Underwriters Laboratories and GSU launch research initiative on vaping and e-cigarettes

Chemical Insights Research Institute, Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), and Georgia State University's School of Public Health (GSU) announced the launch of a research initiative on understanding human exposure and the potential health effects of vaping and e-cigarettes. Researchers will characterize airborne particulate aerosols and volatile organic chemicals released during e-cigarette and vape use and determine human exposure levels and potential toxicity for users and bystanders.

With a focus on public health and safety benefits, our research findings will provide data on specific particles and chemicals and their exposure levels so that human health impacts may be further understood."

Dr. Marilyn Black, vice president and senior technical advisor, Chemical Insights Research Institute

The use of vapes or e-cigarettes among adolescents and young adults has increased in the United States over the last decade, with an estimated 3.6 million U.S. youths using e-cigarettes in 2020. One contributing factor is the perception that vaping and e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to cigarettes and other traditional tobacco products. However, a series of studies have proven pulmonary toxicity in e-cigarettes and a link to negative impacts on adolescents' respiratory health. Currently, vaping and e-cigarettes lag in product safety testing for numerous proprietary liquids and aerosol delivery methods available in the expanding marketplace.

Recognizing this gap in research knowledge, UL assembled a team of highly skilled researchers and technical facilities to collect more data and draw more insights. Combining UL's specialized human exposure chambers with the expertise of GSU public health researchers will allow the team to conduct real-time exposure studies; characterize the physiochemical aerosols and measure biological activity and genotoxicity of the vaping and e-cigarettes aerosols. Initial research findings will be available in Fall 2021.

"This study will provide scientifically sound data to inform policy makers, healthcare providers, manufacturers, and consumers of potential health risks and approaches for product usage and warnings to educate consumers of potential respiratory hazards," said Dr. Roby Greenwald, co-principal investigator, GSU. "We're looking at multiple liquids and aerosol delivery methods that are readily available to better understand toxicity and their impact on human health."

The UL initiative builds upon the organization's past research projects on emerging technologies' impact on health, including the toxicity of 3D printing emissions, furniture flammability and global air pollution. UL's research paves the way for improved practices, alternative product designs, new legislation, regulatory changes, and educational programs to enable safer products and healthier environments.

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