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Toxicity Assessment of Refill Liquids for Electronic Cigarettes

Unit of Toxicology, University Center of Legal Medicine, 1000 Lausanne 25, Switzerland
Department of Cardiology, Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, Kallithea 17674, Greece
Department of Pharmacology, University of Patras, Patras 26500, Greece
Swiss Center of Applied Human Toxicology, University of Lausanne, 1000 Lausanne 25, Switzerland
Institute of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(5), 4796-4815;
Received: 18 February 2015 / Revised: 15 April 2015 / Accepted: 28 April 2015 / Published: 30 April 2015
PDF [714 KB, uploaded 30 April 2015]


We analyzed 42 models from 14 brands of refill liquids for e-cigarettes for the presence of micro-organisms, diethylene glycol, ethylene glycol, hydrocarbons, ethanol, aldehydes, tobacco-specific nitrosamines, and solvents. All the liquids under scrutiny complied with norms for the absence of yeast, mold, aerobic microbes, Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Diethylene glycol, ethylene glycol and ethanol were detected, but remained within limits authorized for food and pharmaceutical products. Terpenic compounds and aldehydes were found in the products, in particular formaldehyde and acrolein. No sample contained nitrosamines at levels above the limit of detection (1 μg/g). Residual solvents such as 1,3-butadiene, cyclohexane and acetone, to name a few, were found in some products. None of the products under scrutiny were totally exempt of potentially toxic compounds. However, for products other than nicotine, the oral acute toxicity of the e-liquids tested seems to be of minor concern. However, a minority of liquids, especially those with flavorings, showed particularly high ranges of chemicals, causing concerns about their potential toxicity in case of chronic oral exposure. View Full-Text
Keywords: electronic cigarette; electronic nicotine delivery systems; e‑cigarette; e‑liquid; quality control. electronic cigarette; electronic nicotine delivery systems; e‑cigarette; e‑liquid; quality control.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Varlet, V.; Farsalinos, K.; Augsburger, M.; Thomas, A.; Etter, J.-F. Toxicity Assessment of Refill Liquids for Electronic Cigarettes. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 4796-4815.

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