Vaping less harmful to lung fluids than smoking, study shows

January 26, 2018 by Colleen Carow, Ohio University
Vaping less harmful to lung fluids than smoking, Ohio University engineering study shows
Credit: Ohio University

A new Ohio University engineering study shows that e-cigarettes, while still toxic, are less harmful than conventional cigarettes.

Amir Farnoud, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, and his team looked at how e-cigarettes—battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine by heating an "e-liquid" – affect surfactant.

Pulmonary surfactant is a mixture of lipids and proteins that lines the alveolar region of the lungs, reducing the of the alveolar fluid, preventing lung collapse, and therefore decreasing the work of breathing. The very small particles in can reach deep into the lungs. A number of studies have focused on how e-cigarettes affect the cells of the pulmonary airways or the deep lungs, but the OHIO team wanted to see whether e-cigarette vapor affects the ability of surfactant to reduce surface tension.

They found that burning tar, an ingredient found in conventional cigarettes, was specifically damaging for pulmonary surfactant, but that particles in e-cigarette vapor do not affect the normal functioning of surfactant because e-cigarettes involve vaporization, not burning. On the other hand, conventional cigarettes significantly inhibited the ability of surfactant to reduce surface tension.

"At least we know the first protective layer is not going to be affected," Farnoud said, adding that the results don't completely rule out the toxic potential of e-cigarettes

Researchers exposed both conventional cigarette and e-cigarette vapor to calf lung surfactant extract (Infasurf, ONY Inc.), which is used to treat preterm infants who have yet to form surfactant. The study included three different e-liquid flavors (tobacco, berry, and mint), because different e-liquid flavoring has been shown to produce different chemicals in vapor.

"There is a lot of interest in understanding what e-cigarettes do to the pulmonary health," Farnoud said, noting that vapor must first pass through surfactant before reaching deep lung cells.

The research team also included Savas Kaya, professor of electrical engineering; technician Rebecca J. Przybyla; chemical and doctoral candidate Saeed Nazemidashtarjandi, and electrical engineering doctoral candidates Rajan Parthiban and Jason Wright.

The study, titled "Electronic cigarette alters the lateral structure but not tensiometric properties of calf lung ," was first published in Respiratory Research journal.

Explore further: Vaping may be bad for kids, good for adults: study

More information: Rebecca J. Przybyla et al. Electronic cigarette vapor alters the lateral structure but not tensiometric properties of calf lung surfactant, Respiratory Research (2017). DOI: 10.1186/s12931-017-0676-9

Related Stories

Vaping may be bad for kids, good for adults: study

January 23, 2018
Vaping, or smoking battery powered devices known as e-cigarettes, may encourage youths to start smoking but may also help adults quit, said a US review of scientific research out Tuesday.

E-cigarettes may help adults switch from conventional cigarettes but encourage smoking among teens

January 25, 2018
E-cigarettes can be highly addictive, and kids who use them are more likely to start smoking regular cigarettes, concluded a panel of public health experts.

Vaping doubles risk of smoking cigarettes for teens

September 18, 2017
Teenagers who try e-cigarettes double their risk for smoking tobacco cigarettes, according to a new study.

E-cigarettes do not promote cancer growth in lab tests

April 27, 2017
A new study found no evidence that a commercially available e-cigarette vapor promotes the development of cancer in laboratory cells. In contrast, smoke from a reference cigarette was positive for cancer-promoting activity ...

Potentially dangerous molecules detected in e-cigarette aerosols

December 3, 2015
Electronic cigarettes produce highly-reactive free radicals—molecules associated with cell damage and cancer—and may pose a health risk to users, according to researchers at Penn State College of Medicine.

Popular e-cigarette liquid flavorings may change, damage heart muscle cells

November 16, 2017
Chemicals used to make some popular e-cigarette liquid flavorings—including cinnamon, clove, citrus and floral—may cause changes or damage to heart muscle cells, new research indicates.

Recommended for you

Sweet, bitter, fat: New study reveals impact of genetics on how kids snack

February 22, 2018
Whether your child asks for crackers, cookies or veggies to snack on could be linked to genetics, according to new findings from the Guelph Family Health Study at the University of Guelph.

The good and bad health news about your exercise posts on social media

February 22, 2018
We all have that Facebook friend—or 10—who regularly posts photos of his or her fitness pursuits: on the elliptical at the gym, hiking through the wilderness, crossing a 10K finish line.

Smartphones are bad for some teens, not all

February 21, 2018
Is the next generation better or worse off because of smartphones? The answer is complex and research shows it largely depends on their lives offline.

Tackling health problems in the young is crucial for their children's future

February 21, 2018
A child's growth and development is affected by the health and lifestyles of their parents before pregnancy - even going back to adolescence - according to a new study by researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, ...

Lead and other toxic metals found in e-cigarette 'vapors': study

February 21, 2018
Significant amounts of toxic metals, including lead, leak from some e-cigarette heating coils and are present in the aerosols inhaled by users, according to a study from scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public ...

Why teens need up to 10 hours' sleep

February 21, 2018
Technology, other distractions and staying up late make is difficult, but researchers say teenagers need to make time for 8-10 hours of sleep a night to optimise their performance and maintain good health and wellbeing.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.