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Watch the Voltage

29th January 2015

As we reported last year, the science on e-cigarettes shows no evidence of significant dangers to users or the public, and much less than for cigarettes - however with the potential exception of higher power devices, which may be referred to as second generation e-cigarettes. These larger, higher power devices can operate at much higher power/voltages, and this raises the temperature they operate at. This produces a stronger, often burnt flavour. This is an identified risk because flavours are an indication of the generation of certain types of free radical, called reactive aldehydes or carbonyls, such as formaldehyde. These are produced above a certain temperature from certain compounds, and this also happens in food and equally thought to be a concern. Cooking with certain fats, and not changing oil regularly in fryers, puts these compounds into our food. More and more researchers are becoming concerned about the impact of this on our health.

Recent research published in the NEJM has shown that vaping at lower power levels produced NO reactive compounds. However, higher powered levels could produce similar compounds. While generally very safe, although it can cause allergic reactions in a few, at higher temperatures propylene glycol can degenerate in the vaporiser (atomiser) to form *similar* reactive compounds which could stress our cells, and the energy producing machinery within them, called mitochondria. These compounds are in fact natural and always generated in our cells and through the process of digesting food and metabolising energy, nevertheless our cells have a threshold of how much of these reactive compounds they can tolerate safely. Cells both produce, and safely remove and turn into energy these compounds when they are healthy - and there isn't too much of them.

The good news - as we have already reported, lower voltage e-cigs do not produce these kinds of compounds from the e-liquid. The production of potentially harmful levels of these compounds is seen at or above 5 volts, although there will be other factors that can impact the temperature of the vaporiser (so not ALL high voltage, refillable e-cigs necessarily will produce these molecules. The key factors are both the power (which is proportionate to voltage), and whether the wick runs dry, which is much more likely in 'top fill' atomisers). Ours operate well below 5 volts. The real factor is the amount of power and how hot the vaporiser actually gets, which depends on current and volts and if it is dry and other design aspects. You will be able to taste when there is a problem, as Dr Farsalinos has pointed out. Additionally, the compounds actually found in the high-power e-cig device tested are only similar to formaldehyde and are not actually known to be harmful.

Whilst the new study has been generating a lot of press coverage, the issue has already been covered and the new data does not challenge what was already known, such as published here, showing the lower production of these molecules in e-cigs, especially lower voltage types, compared to cigarettes.

To maintain your Tiger-Coco e-cigarette, it is important for flavour and as a precaution to change or refill the cartomiser that screws onto the battery regularly. Tips for refilling the cartomiser (also called an atomiser) can be found here.