BACKGROUND: The promise of lower exposures to carcinogenic combustion products from e-cigarettes as compared to conventional cigarettes has resulted in a rapid increase in e-cigarette use in California and across the country. Laboratory tests have detected a variety of compounds in e-liquids and e-cigarette emissions including nicotine, carrier components (propylene glycol and glycerin), formaldehyde, flavorings (including diacetyl), tobacco-specific nitrosamines, metals, and some volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These compounds have known health effects including acute nicotine poisoning, decreased lung function, severe lung disease, and respiratory irritation. In California, use of e-cigarettes in workplaces has only recently been limited by state regulations, and workplace vaping is especially prevalent in stores selling e-liquid and e-cigarette devices (vape shops).
METHODS: In 2016, scientists from the California Department of Public Health began characterizing workplace exposures in a number of vape shops in the San Francisco Bay Area. Sampling included personal and area air monitoring of flavoring chemicals, formaldehyde, particulate matter, and VOCs. The e-liquids themselves were analyzed for flavorings including alpha-diketones. Wipe samples were collected for metals on commonly touched surfaces.
RESULTS: Initial findings suggest that employee chemical handling practices need improvement, and detectable levels of formaldehyde and flavoring compounds were found in the air.
CONCLUSIONS: With data from several sites, the collaboration will be able to develop a better understanding of this emerging industry with summary results and recommendations for workplace health and safety.