- FAMRI Center
New e-cig risk assessment uses the wrong standard
Many people have asked me what I thought about the report "Peering through the mist: What does the chemistry of contaminants in electronic cigarettes tell us about health risks?" that being publicized by the e-cig advocacy group CASAA.
This paper uses the same approach to risk assessment that I remember from risk assessments done of secondhand smoke years ago by tobacco industry apologists that concluded that secondhand tobacco smoke could not produce any adverse health effects.
The first problem with this study is that it compares levels of various toxins in e-cigs with threshold limit values (TLVs) which have been published by the American Council of Government Industrial Hygienists using that are generally viewed as not health protective. In addition, as noted in the report, TLVs are for occupational exposures. Occupational exposures are generally much higher than levels considered acceptable for ambient or population-level exposures. Occupational exposures also do not consider exposure to sensitive subgroups, such as people with medical conditions, children and infants, who might be exposed to secondhand ecigarette emissions. Finally, even when setting allowable occupational exposures, regulatory agencies like OSHA often establish tighter standards than TLVs, and often those tighter levels have been criticized as not being health protective.
The report itself also notes that "the quality of much of the data that was available for this assessment was poor," which is an ongoing problem with doing this kind of risk assessment. Some of these problems are due to the poor quality of some of the studies and others are due to the poor quality control of the ecigs themselves.
Carl Phillips, CASAA's Scientific Director, who contributed "frank discussions of relevant scientific matters," is a long-time tobacco industry apologist.
So, this paper is not something prudent decisionmakers should use to make policies about ecigarettes or involuntary exposure to secondhand ecig emissions.