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Putting electronic cigarettes to the test
Date:12/7/2012

Electronic cigarettes are experiencing somewhat of a boom at the moment. An estimated two million people in Germany have already turned to the vapor cigarette, which many view as a healthy alternative to conventional smoking. However, a number of voices, primarily from the political sphere, are warning of possible health risks, claiming that the long-term consequences cannot yet be foreseen. Studies to date have come to mixed conclusions. There is a general lack of substantiated facts, fuelling an ongoing battle between supporters and opponents. By carrying out a new, independent study, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research WKI in Braunschweig hope to introduce a degree of objectivity into this emotional topic of debate. The scientists' goal was to find out whether e-cigarettes pollute the surrounding air, thus affecting bystanders of an e-cigarette user.

An e-cigarette consists of a battery, an atomizer, a heating coil and a reservoir for the liquids used for producing vapor. These liquids are heated up in the atomizer and vaporized at between 65 and 120 degrees Celsius. The user activates the mechanism either by pressing a button or by suction, depending on the design. Liquids come with or without nicotine, and also contain aromas and flavors like amaretto, almond, vanilla or apple. Propylene glycol is the most usual solvent; it produces the atomized mist that resembles smoke when exhaling. In contrast to conventional cigarettes, which constantly emit smoke as the tobacco burns, the electronic equivalent only releases volatile substances when it is turned on. But that is not the only difference between the two stimulants, as the WKI researchers observed. "In the e-cigarette, vaporized substances create an aerosol of ultrafine particles which become even finer when inhaled into the lungs. These tiny nanodroplets disperse over time. In contrast, the combustion process discharges solid particles that can remain in the surrounding
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Contact: Dr. Tobias Schripp
tobias.schripp@wki.fraunhofer.de
49-531-215-5249
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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