At UC Davis, the Pinkerton Laboratory injects new life into the study of e-cigarettes.
Kent Pinkerton, co-director of the Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of California, Davis, is heading a new investigation into how e-cigarette vapor impacts lung health. Morgan Poindexter and Navid Singhrao, two graduate students in the Pinkerton Lab, describe their research.
Why study e-cigarettes and vaping right now?
Public concern about e-cigarette hazards has been stoked by recent fatalities and major health issues among vaping’s most promising demographic. Although the scientific picture is hazy at best, legislators and concerned individuals are seeking information on the public health repercussions of these gadgets Despite the fact that the US Centers for Disease Control has declared e-cigarettes to be dangerous for the vast majority of individuals, nothing is known about the long-term health effects of using these devices.
Vaping is soon becoming an issue for the vast majority of people who don’t smoke. In 2007, e-cigarettes were introduced in the United States, and they quickly became popular. There has been a massive increase in sales since then, reaching $7 billion every year.
Teens’ usage of e-cigarettes has increased in recent years due to the widespread availability of e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes and nicotine vaping became the preferred method of nicotine use for the first time among teens in 2014. Middle and high school students in 2018 reported that just 2 percent and 8 percent, respectively, claimed they had recently used cigarettes, while 5 percent and 21 percent, respectively, said they had recently used e-cigarettes.
Secondhand smoke is a risk, just as with regular cigarettes.
Adults in California have been exposed to secondhand smoke from e-cigarettes for three years in a row, rising from around 20 percent to 33 percent in that time. Offspring, the elderly, and the children of mothers who vape while pregnant may be especially exposed to the harmful effects of e-cigarettes.
Why is so little known about vaping and health?
To begin with, researchers are unable to keep up with the rapid growth of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. Many different e-cigarette devices and e-liquids are currently on the market, which makes it difficult to study the health impacts.
There has been a proliferation of items, and the FDA has adopted an almost hands-off attitude to most gadgets or flavored liquids and has not investigated their safety. At first, e-cigarettes were not subject to FDA regulation, unless they were advertised for medicinal use. The FDA unexpectedly erased a part in the new rules pertaining to flavored tobacco products in 2016.
Researchers will have a tough time determining the chemical makeup of new e-cigarettes, such as third-generation devices or open-tank systems since they enable users to personalize how and what they vape. Any e-liquid may be used with these new devices, as well as a variety of temperature and nicotine delivery options, thanks to their changeable power settings.
When it comes to electronic cigarettes, experts don’t know how different e-liquid formulations and different e-cigarette device settings affect chemical exposure and respiratory health when compared to smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes.
What does science say about vaping so far?
Even while the unknowns are a big part of the vaping controversy, what scientists have discovered so far is concerning. There are several e-cigarette devices and liquid compositions that create toxic byproducts including formaldehyde and acrolein, as well as benzene and toluene, at levels comparable to and often surpassing traditional cigarettes.
As the vaping temperature and the proportion of propylene glycol (PG) to vegetable glycerin (VG) alter, so may one’s exposure to potentially dangerous byproducts. PG, VG, nicotine, or additional flavorings are the key e-liquid components that produce potentially dangerous chemical byproducts.
A process known as thermal degradation occurs when these basic chemicals are heated, resulting in the production of hundreds of new chemical compounds. Formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein may be produced by the thermal decomposition of PG and VG alone.
Vapor chemistry is also influenced by the quantity of nicotine ine-liquid. Chemical reactions occur when nicotine is heated to high temperatures, resulting in a wide range of potentially toxic metabolites that may have an adverse effect on health. There are a number of health issues that are well-known:
E-cigarette vapor contains carcinogenic nitrosamines, such as the carcinogenic formaldehyde and the nitrosamine-specific nicotine nitrosamines NNK and NNN. Some data shows that e-cigarette vapor may harm cell DNA, but scientists are still assessing the overall health impact of these nicotine byproducts. One of the reasons frequent smoking is connected to lung cancer is because of this sort of DNA damage.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and its byproducts are also linked to smoking (COPD).
How is the Pinkerton Lab contributing to e-cigarette research?
A murine (mouse) model and cutting-edge research tools will be used by Pinkerton’s team to investigate the following topics:
Expertise pooled together. E-cigarette vapor’s chemical makeup is being studied in conjunction with biological data collected from mice in an effort conducted by Dr. Tran Nguyen of the Department of Environmental Toxicology Dr. Elliot Spindle of Oregon’s Health and Sciences University is also collaborating with the Pinkerton Lab to better understand the consequences of vaping on pregnant mice and their pups.
a brand-new generation of technologies The Pinkerton Lab built its own exposure chamber to carefully monitor and adjust factors on a puff-by-puff basis in order to assess the effect on lungs. A wide variety of e-liquids may be used in e-cigarettes, each with a different quantity of nicotine and a different mix of solvents, such as PG and VG.
The chamber at the Pinkerton Lab enables mice or cell cultures to be exposed to any combination of vaping circumstances in order to establish which ones produce the highest quantities of hazardous substances… Formaldehyde and acetone have been found to be more prevalent in vapor from electronic cigarettes that function at higher temperatures (550°F), which signals a larger danger to the lungs, according to research conducted by Pinkerton Lab.
Identifying novel disease processes. After prolonged exposure to e-cigarette vapor, the lab is looking at how e-cigarette aerosol affects the respiratory system by measuring inflammation, structural damage, and the expression of genes and proteins in the lungs of mice. The cells of the lungs might be damaged and normal lung function disrupted if inhalation of vapor promotes inflammation in the lungs. Smoking electronic cigarettes may impair lung immunity, making it more difficult to fight off illnesses from bacteria and viruses.
A better grasp of the dangers that may be passed on through generations. Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy has been shown to disrupt fetal lung development, may result in lifetime lung function declines, and raises a child’s risk of respiratory illness.
The Pinkerton Lab is investigating the processes underpinning respiratory health in an attempt to learn more about the effects of vaping on lung development and function and whether or not this has an influence on future generations’ health. Epigenetics, the ability of cells to interact and block or turn on and off certain genes, maybe the root cause of any health problems.