Indoor air quality and passive e-cigarette aerosol exposures in vape-shops

Yeongkwon Son, Daniel P. Giovenco, Cristine Delnevo, Andrey Khlystov, Vera Samburova, Qingyu Meng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Introduction: Direct emissions of nicotine and harmful chemicals from electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have been intensively studied, but secondhand and thirdhand e-cigarette aerosol (THA) exposures in indoor environments are understudied. Aims and Methods: Indoor CO2, NO2, particulate matter (PM2.5), aldehydes, and airborne nicotine were measured in five vape-shops to assess secondhand exposures. Nicotine and tobacco-specific nitrosamines were measured on vape-shop surfaces and materials (glass, paper, clothing, rubber, and fur ball) placed in the vape-shops (14 days) to study thirdhand exposures. Results: Airborne PM2.5, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and nicotine concentrations during shop opening hours were 21, 3.3, 4.0, and 3.8 times higher than the levels during shop closing hours, respectively. PM2.5 concentrations were correlated with the number of e-cigarette users present in vape-shops (ρ = 0.366-0.761, p <.001). Surface nicotine, 4-(N-methyl-N-nitrosamino)-4-(3-pyridyl) butanal (NNA), and 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) were also detected at levels of 223.6 ± 313.2 µg/m2, 4.78 ± 11.8 ng/m2, and 44.8 ± 102.3 ng/m2, respectively. Substantial amounts of nicotine (up to 2073 µg/m2) deposited on the materials placed within the vape-shops, and NNA (up to 474.4 ng/m2) and NNK (up to 184.0 ng/m2) were also formed on these materials. The deposited nicotine concentrations were strongly correlated with the median number of active vapers present in a vape-shop per hour (ρ = 0.894-0.949, p =.04-.051). NNK levels on the material surfaces were significantly associated with surface nicotine levels (ρ=0.645, p =.037). Conclusions: Indoor vaping leads to secondhand and THA exposures. Thirdhand exposures induced by e-cigarette vaping are comparable or higher than that induced by cigarette smoking. Long-term studies in various microenvironments are needed to improve our understanding of secondhand andTHA exposures. Implications: This study adds new convincing evidence that e-cigarette vaping can cause secondhand and THA exposures. Our findings can inform Occupational Safety and Health Administration, state authorities, and other government agencies regarding indoor air policies related to e-cigarette use, particularly in vape-shops. There is an urgent need to ensure that vape-shops maintain suitable ventilation systems and cleaning practices to protect customers, employees, and bystanders. Our study also demonstrates that nicotine can deposit or be adsorbed on baby's clothes and toys, and that tobacco-specific nitrosamines can form and retain on baby's clothes, highlighting children's exposure to environmental e-cigarette aerosol andTHA at home is of a particular concern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1772-1779
Number of pages8
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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