Going Up in Smoke

Going Up in Smoke

Author: Anne Deveson

Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered vaporizers that simulate the feeling of smoking. They are often used by people who are trying to quit smoking; instead of smoke the user inhales an aerosol that is generated from a liquid contained in the electronic cigarette. For health and safety reasons, it is important to know the chemical composition of these aerosols.

Through mimicking the “vaping” process, Renato Zenobi, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, and colleagues have developed a method for the real-time analysis of electronic cigarette aerosols. The technique is based on the secondary electrospray ionization technique coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry. The team successfully analyzed electronic cigarette aerosols and have found quantitative differences between the liquids and aerosols.

The researchers were able to detect more than 250 chemical substances in the aerosols using this method. In addition, they found that for certain compounds, there was a high correlation between their concentration in the aerosol and the operating power of the electronic cigarette. The method also allows proper quantification of several chemical components such as alkaloids and flavor compounds.


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