Health

Flavourings found to release toxic chemicals when heated, study finds


Toxic chemicals used in flavoured vapes have been described as highly toxic.

Researchers used AI to stimulate the effects of heating chemicals found in 180 vape flavours.


The study detected 505 hazardous chemicals, including 127 labelled acutely toxic.

A further 153 health hazards were found as a result of vaping.

Vape shop selling disposable single use vapes on 7th March 2024 in London

Vape shop selling disposable single use vapes on 7th March 2024 in London

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The scientists suggest their approach may help to reveal the longer-term health risks of vaping in advance of clinical diseases emerging in the general population.

Liquid flavouring in e-cigarettes is headed to high temperatures.

Study authors Donal O’Shea, and Dan Wu, from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and Akihiro Kishimoto from 1 IBM Research – Tokyo, Japan, wrote: “The aerosols produced by e-cigarette vaping contain immensely complex uncharacterised mixtures of pyrolysis products, the health implications of which are, as yet, mostly unidentified.

“In advance of health effects of vaping becoming apparent in the general population, AI can be exploited to give guidance to the public, policymakers and health care professionals.”

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They added: “As vaping is a new and unprecedented stress to the human body, with the ability to generate pyrolysis products more toxic than their parent compounds, it seems prudent to strictly limit the number of chemical entities in e-liquids.”

Despite not being involved in the study, University of Dundee’s professor of cardiovascular medicine and therapeutics Jacob George said: “There are close to 40,000 different flavours in the market worldwide today and making sense of their effects will require a combination of techniques including automated mapping algorithms and creation of neural networks such as this.

“While this study cannot give us definitive answers of the risks of flavoured vapes on human health, this study may be a helpful early step to identifying signals that could then lead to further, more in-depth research into heat-induced breakdown of chemicals used in flavourings.

“This study has combined artificial intelligence with previously known published information to predict that when heating a combination of chemicals in flavoured vapes there might result in a harmful toxicant being produced, and these predictions can then be tested with further studies.

A pile of disposable vapesA pile of disposable vapesGETTY

“There is, as yet, very little good-quality evidence of either safety or harm of these flavourings and so I welcome novel strategies as employed by these researchers.”

The report comes after a survey conducted by AHS found 54 per cent of young people aged 11 to 18 in England began vaping to “give it a try”.

The charity also found 3.7 per cent of young people vape regularly.

However, 84 per cent of young people in England aged 16 to 19 also acknowledged there was some degree of harm associated with daily vaping, a separate ITC survey has revealed.



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