A Real-Time Fast-Flow Tube Study of VOC and Particulate Emissions from Electronic, Potentially Reduced-Harm, Conventional, and Reference Cigarettes

Tobacco-free electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), which are currently not regulated by the FDA, have become widespread as a “safe” form of smoking. One approach to evaluate the potential toxicity of e-cigarettes and other types of potentially “reduced-harm” cigarettes is to compare their emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including reactive organic electrophilic compounds such as acrolein, and particulate matter to those of conventional and reference cigarettes. Our newly designed fast-flow tube system enabled us to analyze VOC composition and particle number concentration in real-time by promptly diluting puffs of mainstream smoke obtained from different brands of combustion cigarettes and e-cigarettes. A proton transfer reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometer (PTRMS) was used to analyze real-time cigarette VOC emissions with a 1-s time resolution. Particles were detected with a condensation particle counter (CPC). This technique offers real-time analysis of VOCs and particles in each puff without sample aging and does not require any sample pretreatment or extra handling. Several important determining factors in VOC and particle concentration were investigated: (1) puff frequency; (2) puff number; (3) tar content; (4) filter type. Results indicate that electronic cigarettes are not free from acrolein and acetaldehyde emissions and produce comparable particle number concentrations to those of combustion cigarettes, more specifically to the 1R5F reference cigarette. Unlike conventional cigarettes, which emit different amounts of particles and VOCs each puff, there was no significant puff dependence in the e-cigarette emissions. Charcoal filter cigarettes did not fully prevent the emission of acrolein and other VOCs.

Copyright 2015 American Association for Aerosol Research