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Electronic Cigarettes and The Potential Harm Caused
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the risks of using electronic cigarettes, as well as how participating in such smoking may cause harmful effects throughout early to late development. Inhalation of any foreign substance may be detrimental to one’s health. Prolonged inhalation over months and years may show adverse effects on the lungs. This does not only impact older adults, but also the youth and the development of their lungs and possibly other parts of the body. Introducing potentially harmful chemicals that have not been tested extensively demonstrates harmful effects on both the user and third party user.
What is E-Liquid?
E-liquid is the substance used within a vaping device that, when heated, releases chemicals and nicotine into one’s body. The study by HHS (2016) describes it as:
E-liquids produce chemical reactions that may result in the formation of new, harmful compounds. Carcinogens (e.g., formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein) and toxic heavy metals (e.g., lead and cadmium) have been found in e-cigarette aerosols in laboratory tests conducted at temperatures within the range of most e-cigarette products. (p. 138)
Effects on Pregnant Women
Inhalation of chemicals that have not been tested thoroughly may be harmful for the user. In this case, a pregnant woman is particularly at risk and should use caution. This is because the woman is not only taking in the chemicals into her own lungs and affecting her body, she is putting her child, who shares the chemicals that she introduces to her body, at risk for harm. The unborn child relies on the mother to provide necessary nutrients for natural growth. This does not include introducing potentially harmful chemicals.
Impact on Unborn Child
In this day and age, many believe that smoking or vaping electronic cigarettes is safer than smoking traditional tobacco products. This may not be the case, because most electronic cigarettes contain a much higher level of nicotine per milliliter than regular cigarettes. Nicotine is a very harmful chemical that causes a decreased blood flow, which leads to decreased oxygen flow systemically. This may result in damaging effects on the unborn child (Orzabal et al. 2019). An example of this is provided by Orzabal’s research, which describes that if a pregnant woman decides to vape during pregnancy, it may affect the lung development of the woman and fetus (Orzabal et al. 2019). This decreased pulmonary growth of the fetus will lead to developmental issues in the future, which may include difficulty breathing naturally and stunted growth systemically. If the unborn child does not develop as expected in the womb, there may be a decreased chance for survival once born. Unfortunately, the child might not make it outside of the womb. There have been cases where mothers who decided to vape during pregnancy, have experienced sudden infant death syndrome (HHS, 2016).
Accessibility for Youth to Young Adults
E-cigs are not only popular amongst adults, but also adolescents to young adults. As anything that may be popular, the companies want to make the product accessible to all ages to make money. For this reason, the companies include many fruity flavors to attract youth. Many stores too, make it easy for anyone, regardless of age, to purchase such products in order for them to make money.
Impact on Younger Generation
Since there is an increased use of this product, we may begin to see some adverse side effects presenting itself. The problem here, is that the youth are still in the critical stages of development. This may lead to a harming or stunting of natural growth, especially in the lungs. As the adolescent smokes and inhales these chemicals, the vessels in the lungs constrict and prevent proper oxygen flow throughout the body, which can lead to a slowed growth and or damage to the organs that are not receiving the oxygen needed to survive. Carlsen reports in his journal that something needs to be done to prevent deterioration of the lungs before it is too late (Carlsen et al. 2018). This vaping does not only affect the adolescent, but also the friends nearby. Second hand vaping has caused decreased oxygen flow, failed respiratory functioning and gastrointestinal issues in those who are not directly inhaling the vape’s contents (Carlsen et al. 2018). There is something not right about these chemicals being inhaled.
Reasons for Further Research
So far, it is apparent that vaping fad is not as safe as one would think. People, with very little knowledge on the new invention, took in the idea of vaping as a method for smoking, believing that it would be less harmful. The problem is, that many of the products on the market are not FDA regulated, meaning that it has not been tested properly to whether it is safe for entering one’s body. To continue, one may not know how much to use and what may be considered a lethal dose. Carlsen’s report states that if you match 0.5 mg per kg in adults via inhalation, this would be considered a lethal dose; for adolescents, it is a mere 0.1 mg per kg (Carlsen et al. 2018). This shows that, besides all the other negative effects that vaping could bring, it could kill if not measured out and taken seriously. This is the main reason why these chemicals need to be tested for safe use.
It is disappointing that, after so much research that has already been done, people still lean towards vaping regardless of what evidence reveals. Of course more evidence is needed to fully understand the complete harmful effects of inhaling foreign chemicals that appear poisonous. These chemicals are affecting everyone from the unborn fetus to the older adult who decided to quit tobacco smoking. The chemicals lead to mainly respiratory issues as well as heart issues due to the nicotine trigger to vasoconstrict many vessels and even death in some cases. In conclusion, these chemicals that are being inhaled, are not being properly tested and may lead to harmful effects on both the user and the non-user.
- Carlsen, K. C. L., Skjerven, H. O., & Carlsen, K.-H. (2018). The toxicity of E-cigarettes and children’s respiratory health. Paediatric Respiratory Reviews, 28, 63–67. doi: 10.1016/j.prrv.2018.01.002
- Orzabal, M. R., Lunde-Young, E. R., Ramirez, J. I., Howe, S. Y., Naik, V. D., Lee, J., … Ramadoss, J. (2019). Chronic exposure to e-cig aerosols during early development causes vascular dysfunction and offspring growth deficits. Translational Research, 207, 70–82. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2019.01.001
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2016). E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.
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