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E-Cigarette Vapor May Be Less Toxic Than Tobacco Smoke

But researcher says the devices should still be regulated

THURSDAY, Sept. 4, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Secondhand vapor created by one brand of electronic cigarette harbors fewer hazardous chemicals than regular cigarette smoke, although the researchers report the finding doesn't leave e-cigarettes in the clear. The study was published online Aug. 22 in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts.

In the new study, researchers analyzed the air in an office space at a cancer research center in Milan. Two men and a woman smoked either regular cigarettes or an e-cigarette known by the brand name Ovale that's sold around the world.

The researchers found that particulates were 10 times higher in the cigarette smoke than in the e-cigarette vapor. But the e-cigarette vapor contained levels of heavy metals, such as chromium and nickel, possibly released by the cartridge that holds a nicotine solution in the e-cigarette.

The study doesn't examine which hazardous chemicals in e-cigarette vapor actually make it into the lungs of people nearby. And the scientists only looked at indoor smoking, which is often banned in the United States. Still, the findings indicate that "generally speaking, e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes," study author Arian Saffari, a graduate student and fellow with the department of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Southern California, told HealthDay. However, "we can still find some hazardous material in e-cigarette smoke," he noted. "And therefore we cannot leave e-cigarettes unregulated."

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