A new study by the CDC estimates that approximately 6.5 million middle and high school students are exposed to the secondhand aerosols released by electronic nicotine devices like vapes and e-cigarettes.


Contrary to popular belief, electronic nicotine delivery devices do not release simple water vapor. The ingredients in e-juice flavorings are heated at a high temperature, not burned, so they release aerosol. Those who breathe in these secondhand aerosols are exposed to many of the chemicals the device user is, just like a person who breathes in secondhand cigarette smoke is exposed to the same dangerous chemicals that a smoker is.


Many of the toxins found in secondhand aerosols are found in secondhand cigarette smoke. Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, is found in cigarette smoke, e-cigarette vapor, building insulation, glues, and pesticides. Toulene, found in industrial solvents, can damage the central nervous system.  Adolescents can be especially sensitive to nicotine because their brains are still developing. Early exposure can lead to permanent changes in the brain where youth may have impaired learning, memory formation, judgement, and may be more likely to become addicted to other substances later in life.


If an e-cigarette or vape user does not want to quit, the best way to prevent exposing anyone to secondhand aerosol is to use the product outside and away from any doors, vents, or windows. They should also keep a separate outfit or jacket that they only use to vape outside to keep from exposing others to thirdhand aerosols.

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