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Evidence Mounts About the Health Impact of Second-Hand Vaping

A young person vaping using an e-cigarette device.

Medical professionals are now warning about the dangers of second-hand vaping as evidence increasingly shows the health dangers of these devices. According to a report in The Daily Mail, studies have found that a person who vapes from a pod-based or disposable device such as Juul dispels 22 times the safe level of microscopic toxins known as particulate matter. These toxins are so small that when inhaled, they can cause breathing problems and enter a person’s bloodstream.

These new findings debunk the belief held by many e-cigarette users that the devices are safe to use in public, indoors or around others because they do not produce the traditional pungent smoke released by tobacco cigarettes that contain cancer-causing chemicals. 

Vaping devices, unlike tobacco cigarettes, do not have a repulsive odor. Oftentimes, they even produce a pleasant, fruity vapor.

The Danger of Particulate Matter in Vapes

The study’s authors said their findings, published in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, show e-cigarette vapor could pose health risks to more than just those using it. The studies showed that disposable vapes, such as the wildly popular PuffBars, produced the most potentially toxic particulate matter in the user’s immediate surroundings. 

But, researchers from universities in Virginia and North Carolina reported that when people vaped in cars for less than 10 minutes, the air around them became contaminated with toxic particulate matter known as PM2.5, which is emitted from fossil fuels.

When inhaled, the matter penetrates the lungs and irritates the entire respiratory system. This could lead to chronic conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and heavy wheezing. In those who already have these conditions, second-hand vaping could cause the symptoms to worsen.

Since it’s so small, particulate matter could enter the bloodstream causing system-wide inflammation, which increases the risk of cardiovascular issues. These findings come just a day after the American Heart Association presented evidence that vaping devices contain a vicious cocktail of nicotine, solvents and flavors that pose the same severe risks to cardiovascular health as smoking cigarettes.

Secondhand Aerosol from Vaping

Electronic cigarettes or vapes have exploded in popularity since they hit the market about 15 years ago – particularly among American youth. Despite the narrative that corporations that sell these products have spun around them that they are “safe” and “healthier” than traditional cigarettes, research has consistently shown that vaping is not as safe as some believe.

While the dangers of breathing in secondhand cigarette smoke have been well understood and documented, the science about how inhaling secondhand vapor or aerosol affects the body, is still unfolding. Many researchers say people who vape may be underestimated the risks.

One study found that inhaling secondhand aerosols from e-cigarettes is associated with an increased risk of bronchitis symptoms and shortness of breath among young adults, especially among those who don’t smoke or vape themselves. 

The study’s findings, published in 2021 in the journal Thorax, said aerosols from vaping contain heavy metals and ultrafine particles (particulate matter). Researchers said that if someone else is vaping and you are breathing in the aerosols, these particles can get in your lungs and do serious damage.

Perception Matters

A 2021 study in New York, published in the journal Tobacco Control, found using e-cigarettes increased the number of fine particles in the surrounding room. Exposure to particulate matter can worsen heart and lung disease or even lead to premature death. E-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. middle and high school students in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The perception that vaping is not as harmful as smoking is why researchers say there is such a high level of secondhand exposure. They fear that it may be too late by the time the health impacts of secondhand vaping and vaping itself are fully understood. This was the case with tobacco cigarettes as well because the public did not know about the health effects until many years later.

Holding Corporations Accountable

Large corporations that have made billions of dollars in profit from marketing and selling these profits despite knowing they can cause serious and irreversible harm should be held accountable. These companies have intentionally targeted young people with attractive flavors they know will appeal to children and teenagers – like cherry, bubble gum, cotton candy, and various fruity flavors.

Our product defect attorneys have been saying for years now that Juul and other e-cigarette manufactures have adopted Big Tobacco’s playbook using cleverly placed ads to reach vulnerable targets. While traditional cigarette companies used mascots such as Joe Camel to appeal to young people, these e-cigarette manufacturers sell their products using social media influencers on Instagram and other celebrities, spreading the message that vaping is “cool” and “harmless.”

Suppose you or a loved one has been injured or lost a loved one due to the harmful health effects of e-cigarettes. In that case, you may be able to file a product defect lawsuit or a class action against the manufacturers of these products seeking compensation for their damages and losses. 

An experienced product defect lawyer can help victims and their families better understand their legal rights and options.


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