Chemicals Found when using Vapes and E-cigs…


What it’s used for:
Formaldehyde is used in all sorts of products such as cabinets, carpets, furniture, glue, hair straighteners, and concrete. But, mostly, it’s known for embalming dead people.

How it affects the body:
Inhaling formaldehyde can make you feel sick, causing symptoms like sore throat, cough, scratchy eyes, and nosebleeds. It’s also known to cause cancer, particularly of the nose and throat.


What it’s used for:
As a liquid, diacetyl gives food products a buttery taste. Enjoy buttered microwave popcorn? That may be diacetyl you’re tasting. In vape juice, it’s used to make a wide variety of flavors such as piña colada, chocolate cake, and vanilla. In a recent study, researchers found diacetyl in more than 75% of the vape liquid they tested.

How it affects the body:
No joke: While it’s been shown that it’s okay to EAT small amounts of diacetyl, inhaling it can cause “popcorn lung,” a serious disease that first affected a group of microwave popcorn factory workers. The disease causes scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs, resulting in wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.


What it’s used for:
You probably use aluminum every day. It’s in foil, soda cans, door frames, hair spray cans, screens, siding, engines, vacuum cleaners, toasters, kitchen utensils…need we go on?

How it affects the body:
Inhaling aluminum has been shown to cause chemical pneumonia—an inflammation of the lungs caused by inhaling toxins or poisons. In kids, toxic levels of aluminum have been shown to cause slowed growth and deformed bones


What it’s used for:
Nicotine is found in all forms of tobacco including regular cigarettes, vape liquid, chewing tobacco, and more. It is highly addictive.

How it affects the body:
While other chemicals primarily affect the body, nicotine affects the brain. When you use nicotine products, it’s quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, reaching your brain within seconds.


What it’s used for:
Since ancient times, arsenic has been used as a poison. These days, it’s commonly found in rat poison, pesticide, and treated wood.

How it affects the body:
It’s basic: arsenic is toxic. Low doses can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Larger doses can cause abnormal heart beat, damage to blood vessels, skin warts, a feeling of “pins and needles” on the hands and feet, and death. Inhaling arsenic can lead to lung cancer.


What it’s used for:
Benzene is produced by volcanoes and forest fires and is a byproduct of crude oil production. It’s been used in paints, varnishes, and gasoline, as well as an ingredient in vet medicines that kill parasites2. Tobacco smoke is also a major source of benzene

How it affects the body:
Inhaling benzene can cause dizziness, tremors, confusion, and rapid or irregular heartbeat. Long-term exposure to benzene can cause your body’s cells to not work correctly, damaging things like bone marrow and your immune system. It’s also a carcinogen, which means that it’s known to cause cancer


What it’s used for:

How it affects the body:
Low levels of cadmium can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (FUN!). Inhaled, cadmium dust causes dryness of the throat, choking, headache, and pneumonia-like symptoms. A cadmium poisoning disease called itai-itai, Japanese for “ouch-ouch,” causes aches and pains in the bones and joints.


What it’s used for:
Lead’s been used to make things like pipes, roofing, and paint. It’s also in the heavy apron used to shield people from extra radiation during an x-ray.

How it affects the body:
Two words: Lead poisoning. Lead is known to cause both immediate and long-term health problems, especially in kids. It’s toxic when swallowed, eaten, or inhaled, and can lead to nerve damage, issues with your digestive system, and death1. In young people, significant exposure has been shown to cause a drop in IQ level.


What it’s used for:
You’re probably most familiar with the form of fluorine as the part of toothpaste that helps prevent tooth decay (yay fluoride!). In the chemical world, the gas form of fluorine is known to be extremely reactive. That’s why it’s been used to melt glass and make rocket fuel

How it affects the body:
When inhaled in small amounts, fluorine can cause severe irritation to the respiratory system (nose, throat, and lungs). In large amounts, it can cause death.


What it’s used for:
Manganese has been used since ancient times. Cave artists in France used the black ore to paint over 30,000 years ago. Today, the mineral is used to make soda cans, rifle barrels, railroad tracks, and prison bars.

How it affects the body:
Manganese is unsafe when inhaled by people over long periods of time. Excess manganese in the body can cause all sorts of symptoms including hallucinations, forgetfulness, nerve damage, tremors, headaches, and insomnia. It’s also been linked to Parkinson’s disease, impotence in men, and schizophrenia.


What it’s used for:
Wires and plumbing.

How it affects the body:
Real talk: humans need a very small amount of copper in their body to be healthy. But when excess copper enters the body, it can damage major organs like the brain, liver, and kidneys.


What it’s used for:
Silver is used in photography, mirrors, medical equipment—and don’t forget jewelry!

How it affects the body:
Inhaling silver dust can cause breathing problems, lung and throat irritation, and stomach pain. Prolonged exposure to silver dust can cause permanent blue-gray staining of the eyes, nose, mouth, throat, and skin. 

What is Vaping?

Vaping is the act of inhaling vapor from a device, sometimes called a vape pen or an e-cigarette. The device is filled with vape liquid, it heats up, the liquid is vaporized into millions of tiny droplets, and then inhaled.

What’s in the liquid?

Vape companies call it “juice,” which sounds harmless. They even use fake flavors to make it taste like candy, cakes, and fruit. But it’s not flavored air. And it’s not just water. Vape liquid is a mixture of highly addictive nicotine, potentially harmful chemicals, and other additives that can damage your body.

What’s in the vapor?

The weird thing about vaping is that the vapor almost always contains chemicals that weren’t originally added into the liquid. How can that be? It’s because heating the vape liquid produces dangerous byproducts, including heavy metals like lead, aluminum, and nickel. It’s chemistry at work. And it means that you can’t avoid those chemicals by mixing your own liquid or buying local or organic versions.

But someone’s in charge of vaping to make sure it’s safe, right?

Although the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authority over the manufacturing of vape products that contain nicotine, there is nobody watching what goes into the products that claim to be non-nicotine.  It may be years before the FDA considers regulating chemicals used in vape products.

Wait, what?!  

Just ask the chemicals that have been found in vape liquid and vapor.
We call them The Chemical Crew.

They’re all hardworking with jobs that make sense. But when they find out they’re sometimes getting inhaled via vape liquid, they get upset. Which they should, since they can seriously harm your body. Find out what they’re doing to Escape the Vape!


How to Stop Vaping

Help—I already vape (or smoke)! What should I do?

Don’t stress, it’s never too late to quit.
Quitting smoking or vaping can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Get connected with tools, resources, and encouragement, to help you successfully quit.

I know someone who started vaping to quit smoking—Isn’t vaping better than smoking?

Lots of studies show smoking is harmful. When it comes to vaping, manufacturers don’t yet have to disclose what they put in the liquid, so we don’t know the long-term effects. What we do know is that most vape liquid contains chemicals that can lead to addiction, and may cause cancer and lots of other dangerous—and sometimes weird—symptoms. Bottom line: there are healthier ways to quit.


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