Adding noxious chemicals into the air that are not naturally occurring can have detrimental effects on the environment.
Living organisms that require air to breathe may feel the effect of a disrupted chemical balance in the atmosphere, which can lead to severe health complications. This is the case for humans, with evidence concluding that cancers can be developed from inhaling first-hand or second-hand cigarette smoke, for example.
Another effect of certain chemicals being released into the air is an increased effect of climate change. Cigarette smoke, for example, has been found to directly contribute to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but vapour from vaping has had much fewer long-term studies, due to vaping’s recent emergence.
With heightened global pressure to reduce carbon emissions and carbon footprints, LiQuid investigates the effects of vaping on air pollution, drawing comparisons to known harmful contributors, such as car exhausts and cigarette smoking.
Can cigarette smoke heighten pollution levels?
Extensive studies of the contents of cigarette smoke and their effects on the human body conclude severe health detriments to living organisms who inhale the smoke.
However, the noxious effect of cigarette smoke is not only felt by humans. The 70 carcinogenic chemicals found in a single cigarette’s smoke, can also harm the environment.
Carbon dioxide and methane - while not lethal to humans in such small quantities - are found in cigarette smoke, and both contribute to atmospheric pollution. These decrease the air quality for all living organisms needing air to survive, from plants to animals.
Vaping indoors may be harmful to air quality
A study conducted in 2018, published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, evaluated the air quality inside a vaping convention.
The event, held in a large indoor facility in Maryland, US, gathered hundreds of individuals sharing an interest in vaping. The convention encouraged the attendees to vape indoors, allowing for a study on the air quality.
From the convention, the study found an increased level of nicotine in the air. In fact, the level of nicotine in the air was found to be similar to cigarette smoke, raising questions about the effect of second-hand vapour.
It is known that second-hand nicotine inhalation can affect bystanders in similar ways to first-hand exposure; increased blood pressure and heart rate are amongst the most pertinent effects. If vapour can increase the nicotine levels in the air, it is possible that it can have harmful effects on the environment. However, the effects must be weighed against other known contributors of atmospheric damages.
While there isn’t much to be done about potential air pollution yet, there are other ways vaping manufacturers can be more responsible for their operations and try to make the industry more sustainable. At LiQuid for example we use 100% recycled PCR PET 10ml bottles, to reduce plastic consumption when producing our e-liquid ranges. You can learn more about what we do for the environment in our Corporate Social Responsibility Policy.
Smoke from cigarettes may pollute more than cars
To put the environmental effect of vaping and cigarette smoke into perspective, a 2004 study showed that smoke from cigarettes produces 10 times more air pollution than a diesel car exhaust.
Air pollution is measured by the levels of particulate matter in the air - solid or liquid drops that float and stick to objects, containing harmful chemicals.
In the experiment, a diesel car was left to run inside an enclosed garage for an hour. Then, the experiment was repeated with cigarette smoke, which led to the result of a high level of particulate matter in the air - 10 times higher than the air around the diesel engine, and a further 15 times higher than the level found outdoors.
Vaping disruptive to the chemical balance in the air
There is some evidence to suggest that nicotine levels in the air indoors are likely increased by vaping. However, the air quality is harmed substantially less by vaping than smoking.
It is estimated that vaping is 95% safer than cigarettes - mainly due to the lack of carcinogenic chemicals within - but the absence of, as we know, carbon dioxide and methane in vapour render vapour much less harmful to air quality than cigarette smoke.
BBC’s Science Focus magazine presented the idea that smoking may in fact be better for the environment than vaping. That is because on average, cigarette smokers live 10 years less than non-smokers, avoiding a decade’s worth of harmful emissions - much less than any amount of CO2 possibly produced by cigarettes.
Extend your vaping knowledge
LiQuid is dedicated to researching and sharing knowledge on vaping and its effects. To learn more about what vaping does to the body and the environment, visit our Vape Hub.