Harmful flame retardant found in electronic cigarette aerosol

Shan Shan CHUNG*, Jin Shu Zheng, Antonio C.S. Kwong, Vienna W.Y. Lai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


Studies on the health impact of vaping so far have largely ignored the fact that electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) is essentially an electronic product which is likely to contain a group of endocrine disrupting flame retardants, namely, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) as additives in the combustible components of the product. Thus, the conclusion that e-cigarette is less harmful to health than tobacco smoking may be based on incomplete information. This study reports moderate to elevated levels of PBDEs in 5 out of the 13 samples of e-cigarettes. This finding is suggestive of the continued use of PBDEs in the manufacturing of e-cigarette atomizers and the associated protective casing. This study is unique as it confirms the existence of this developmental neurotoxicant in e-cigarette aerosols. In view of the significant levels of PBDEs and other known carcinogens (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and formaldehydes) in e-cigarette aerosol, there is an urgent need for conducting a thorough review of the health risks of vaping by relevant professionals. A further lesson learnt from this study is that policy makers and relevant product manufacturers should be aware of the possible presence of PBDEs in the aerosol of body care and medical electrical devices such as face steamers, inhalators and nebulizers, especially when PBDEs are utilized in the combustible components of these devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-16
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

User-Defined Keywords

  • Brominated flame retardant
  • Electronic cigarette
  • PBDEs.


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