The New England Journal of Medicine yesterday published a letter claiming that vapor contains “hidden” formaldehyde at far higher levels than cigarettes (here), which made headlines worldwide. That conflicts with a report I discussed last week, documenting that formaldehyde levels in e-cigarettes were far lower than those in traditional cigarettes (here).
R. Paul Jensen and colleagues at Portland State University produced the new results by overheating an e-cigarette, a condition (called dry puffing) that is familiar to vapers; the resulting product tastes so bad it cannot be inhaled. In other words, the formaldehyde produced under abusive conditions is not “hidden” at all, because it is in vapor that users find intolerable.
Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, a cardiologist at the University of Patras in Greece and a recognized expert in vapor devices, has documented that the formaldehyde findings are bogus: “Lack of experience on e-cigarettes and no contact with vapers can result in such erroneous and unrealistic results, which can create confusion and misinformation both in the scientific community and among users and potential users of e-cigarettes… The authors of the NEJM study should have read our study and should have known about the existence of this phenomenon.” (here).
One of the new study’s authors, James Pankow, has published other scaremongering reports. In 2010, he claimed that wintergreen flavor in smokeless tobacco is dangerous (here) and he coauthored a largely theoretical study claiming that “infants and children are particularly at risk” from thirdhand smoke. (here).
Modern automobiles have remarkably low pollutant emissions, but anyone behind a car that is overheating or otherwise abused can smell noxious fumes as they are released. Using the New England Journal of Medicine, Jensen and colleagues have created global headlines with a defective e-cigarette experiment, producing scientific pollution.