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Does Vaping Cause Lung Inflammation?

13th November 2014

Electronic Cigarette Smoking

Effects on Lung Function

This question is important to ask and answer. As a vaper and ex-smoker myself, I am concerned that if I continue vaping that I will not be causing harm to my lungs. Improving my lung function was a key objective for switching to vaping.

I can say that, without any doubt, lung function has improved for me since I switched. Being honest, I can also say that if I vape heavily and with certain vaping devices (high powered vaping devices) I do notice a slight lung inflammation and irritation. But I also get this effect cycling in heavy traffic in London. I would equate the effects as worse for cycling in traffic than typical vaping, and much, much less that for smoking. Anecdotally, most people experience big improvements in lung function after switching from smoking to vaping, and the chemical analysis of vapour and smoke completely agrees with these results - its what we should expect due to the much lower toxicity of vapour.

But there are still issues some people will experience. As someone with allergies, I can experience strong inflammation from quite random things, such as the air given off by photocopiers and house-hold dust. If I was allergic or sensitised to e-cig vapour I would react badly to it. There are a few people who are sensitive to e-cig vapour in this way, and should avoid it.

To reduce the potential inflammation that may come from vaping, there are some tips suggested by Dr Farsalinos and co, which point out that although most e-cig devices tested had very low levels of aldehydes (a potential concern in higher doses) a few higher powered devices produced levels high enough to be a concern - similar to that from actually smoking. He also suggests that if you use refillable tank systems, that you should not let it run dry, so keep the tank juice level near the wick or the inlet so it always has enough to run on. This should prevent the temperature rising sufficiently to generate these molecules, which derive from the PG (propylene glycol) or VG (vegetable glycerin) ingredients heated too much. Lower wattage or lower voltage coils are found to produce very little of these compounds, vastly less than cigarettes do.

The scientific case for whether e-cigs produce a small lung irritation is not yet settled, and in fact Dr Farsalinos has found evidence it is either very very small or non existent, at least for most users that aren't allergic to them. For more information on that, click here to see his report.