Even though vaping has taken off in a big way and more experts than ever before are starting to acknowledge that it’s considerably safer than smoking tobacco, there are still countless stories online and in the media about how vapor damages your lungs just as much as smoking does. It’s no wonder that so many vapers are confused and concerned about whether they’re actually doing themselves more harm than good by making the switch. So, let’s look more closely at exactly what effect the vapor (or condensate) from vaping has on the lungs.
What Does The Evidence Say?
One of the main problems when it comes to proving that vaping is safe is that there is no evidence to show that vapor has no negative effect on the lungs in the long term. However, this is simply because e-cigarettes haven’t been on the market for very long. On the other hand, there have been plenty of studies into the use of PG, the main component of vapor which have shown that it causes no negative effects on the lungs. Let’s add to that the fact that countless users who used to smoke regular cigarettes and then made the switch to vaping have reported that they can breathe more easily, noticing better lung capacity within just a few days of starting to use e-cigs, and it seems clear that vapor has no negative impact on the lungs at all. So, why are there still so many people who believe that condensate is harmful?
A Study Into Airway Resistance
A study was carried out by the University of Athens back in 2012 into the effect of vapor on airway resistance which revealed that condensate led to the airways being restricted for approximately 10 minutes following e-cigarette use. Immediately, this was reported in the media under headlines such as “Vaping Causes Lung Damage” however, yet again, many of the articles were full of sensationalist misrepresentation.
Yes, the study did show that vapor causes a short-term increase in resistance in the airways, that much is true. However, this doesn’t equate to lung damage. In fact, there are many other factors which have been shown to increase airway resistance including exercise, sleeping and hot, humid air – and nobody has advised that we stop going to the gym, going to bed or using saunas because those activities might result in lung damage! Tellingly, no other evidence was uncovered during this 2012 study to prove that vapor caused any physical damage to the lungs at all.
What About PG Research?
PG or Propylene Glycol is a key ingredient used in e-liquid and it is this substance which often worries critics of vaping due to the fact that PG is used as an anti-freeze. While this is true, what is often missed out of news reports on this subject is that propylene glycol is sold as an animal safe antifreeze because it has been shown not to be harmful to household pets, unlike other forms of antifreeze which are poisonous to animals.
PG is not only used as an ingredient in e-liquid, it is also found in inhalers, air-conditioners and in stage smoke machines, all of which are breathed into the lungs in vapor form just like condensate and have been around for many years without any suggestion that they could harm the lungs. Even the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) has confirmed that PG is “generally safe” to be inhaled, so we can be fairly convinced that vapers lungs should be fairly safe from harm.The only long term study in existence into the effect of vapor on the lungs so far was released in 2017. Although it was a small-scale research project, the results were very promising, showing that, amongst the vapers that they followed for over 3 years, no long term harm was found to have occurred to any of their lungs.
What About Popcorn Lung?
Recently, the media raised fears that “Popcorn Lung” could be caused by vapor from e-liquids which contain diacetyl, however, yet again this seems to be a lot of scaremongering. It would require extremely extensive exposure to diacetyl at a very high level in order to cause popcorn lung and no cases have ever been reported to date in a vaper.
Not only does vapor from e-cigarettes not appear to cause any damage to vapers’ lungs, it may even prove beneficial for those who already experience respiratory problems according to a 2016 study. So, if you’re thinking of making the switch, don’t worry that you’ll harm your lungs by using e-cigarettes – after all, vaping is 95% safer than smoking!