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Report: high levels of cancer-causing chemicals found during e-cigarette tests



September 04, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health 

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH), a consumer safety organization based in Oakland, has announced it will take “legal action” against electronic cigarette manufacturers after finding cancer-causing chemicals in a number of “vaping” products. CEH said that it is initiating legal action against the companies for failing to warn consumers of the presence of these cancer causing chemicals, as required under California’s strong consumer protection law known as Proposition 65.


CEH's report, “A Smoking Gun: Cancer Causing Chemicals in E-cigarettes,” outlines the first-ever large sampling of actual e-cigarettes and vaping products tested simulating real-world use of the products. The report found that the majority of e-cigarettes tested pose a serious cancer risk—with  most of the 97 e-cigarettes and “vaping” products it tested containing levels of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde that were higher than the state’s safety standards.


According to the report, 21 out of 24 companies tested had at least one product that produced “hazardous amounts” of those chemicals. Tests showed that 21 products contained a level of one of the chemicals at more than 10 times California’s standards and 7 products contained one of the chemicals at more than 100 times the safety level.


 “For decades, the tobacco industry mounted a campaign of lies about cigarettes, and now these same companies claim that their e-cigarettes are harmless,” CEH Executive Direct Michael Green said in a statement. “Anyone who thinks that vaping is harmless needs to know that our testing unequivocally shows that it’s not safe to vape.”


Tests results also found “high levels” of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in nicotine-free e-cigarettes, with one product producing acetaldehyde at more than 13 times the legal safety limit.


E-cigarettes — products of an industry that is largely uncontrolled — could face stiffer regulations in California, if legislators decide to pass a current proposal that would regulate the products similar to that of traditional cigarettes.


That proposal (SBX2 5), which is strongly supported by the California Medical Association, is currently being mulled over in a legislative special session on health. It passed the Senate on Aug. 27 with a 25-13 vote.

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