Highly Reactive Free Radicals in Electronic Cigarette Aerosols

Electronic cigarette (EC) usage has increased exponentially, but limited data are available on its potential harmful effects. We tested for the presence of reactive, short-lived free radicals in EC aerosols by electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy (EPR) using the spin-trap phenyl-N-tert-butylnitrone (PBN). Radicals were detected in aerosols from all ECs and eliquids tested (2.5 × 1013 to 10.3 × 1013 radicals per puff at 3.3 V) and from eliquid solvents propylene glycol and glycerol and from “dry puffing”. These results demonstrate, for the first time, the production of highly oxidizing free radicals from ECs which may present a potential toxicological risk to EC users.