In the frantic effort of big tobacco and big pharma to discredit electronic cigarettes clarims have been made about propylene glycol that are not based in reality or in scientific research.
In 1942, a study conducted at the University of Chicago’s Billings Hospital showed inhalation of vaporized propylene glycol in lab mice might present such diseases as pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses. Follow-up studies to determine long term effects were conducted on other animals including monkeys. This later study focused on the potential for accumulation of propylene glycol in the lungs and results showed no ill effects.
When tobacco companies and the FDA shouted “danger” and point to an ingredient such as propylene glycol which has been proven safe for many years the clamor ignores one primary truth. Many experts believe e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco, allthough no scientific evidence exists that they are harmless and most people believe that smoking almost anything not acutely toxic is safer than smoking tobacco.
Propylene glycol is a common food additive. The propylene glycol in e-cigarettes is used to dilute the nicotine solution delivered as a vapor to the smoker. Propylene glycol is the substance used (less the nicotine) in fog machines and is included in many of the food products we ingest on a daily basis.
When researching the potential danger of propylene glycol online I noticed that the warnings of danger are not coming from scientific journals, medical or legal sites or from medical authority websites. I’ve noticed several false claims that PG is “antifreeze” (that would be ethylene glycol). Other sites issuing caution are natural healing sites and several anti-smoking focused groups.
The internet is a fantastic source of information but it’s important to know who you are listening to before believing some of the information you find online. PG is used in baby wipes and it’s difficult to imagine the FDA claiming a product freely used on infants is unsafe for adult. The best electronic cigarettes deliver a very small amount of PG with the vapor they produce. A few e-liquid suppliers that sell the “juice” used for refillable e-cigarettes use a form of glycerol rather the propylene glycol as a base for the e-liquid.
It makes sense for consumers to look closely at the ingredients they ingest and in recent years many of us have become more conscious of food additives that add color but may cause problems. We’ve learned that those on low sugar food diets need to check labels for a variety of terms. Fructose, sucrose and some other ingredients are sugar no matter what you call them and we’ve learn to watch for that.
History shows us the folly of acting on incorrect or incomplete information when judging the safety of an ingredient or product. Over thirty years ago the FDA banned saccharine, an ingredient widely used in artificial sweeteners. What the public wasn’t told until much later was that the danger of cancer caused by saccharin was based on a study of mice who ingested saccharin levels that would require a mouse to drink 400 cans of cola drink daily for many months. Today saccharin is fully available to the public.
Propylene glycol in electronic cigarettes is a necessary ingredient for the delivery vapor. In spite of the efforts of tobacco companies worried about a competing product, there is no scientific proof that e-cigarettes containing propylene glycol pose a danger to the smoker.