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Bucknell study finds toxins in vape juice

LEWISBURG — Bucknell University Professor Dabrina Dutcher and Karen Castle, associate dean of faculty, along with senior chemistry students Jewel Cook and Ana Islas, are working on continuing research that was recently published by Dutcher, Castle and Alyssa Brown, Carnegie Mellon student, to the Tobacco Control medical journal.

The study focused on the “unknowns” of e-cigarettes detailing the amount of carbon monoxide the products can emit — a fact that many users may not know about it, said Dutcher.

“My students expressed interest in e-cigarettes,” Dutcher said. “We found that, as the power goes up (on e-cigarettes), the more you emit CO.”

She added by saying that these devices can be “customizable” to their users. They can use devices that have an interchangeable wattage amount, anywhere from zero to 200 watts. She said that users can emit CO from the e-cigarettes starting at around 50 watts but if increased, could potentially be releasing a dangerous amount of the toxin.

Within this research, students also noticed that not only the levels of CO change if flavored chemical e-cigarettes are used but that there are still many chemicals and dangers of the products that are yet to be discovered.

“Different flavors sometimes emit more CO,” Dutcher said. “We are still exploring and researching the flavors. We can measure CO, but there are more things that we cannot measure yet–that’s the more interesting part.”

She continued by adding that some researchers are seeing levels of formaldehyde and aluminum also being emitted from flavored vape chemicals, though that research has not yet been published.

Though Dutcher added that she still believes e-cigarettes are still better for users than regular cigarettes, she agrees that the use of e-cigarettes is still new and uncertain.

“There is a lot that we still don’t know,” she said. “The study proves that we really don’t know what’s coming out of e-cigarettes, but we now know there are potentially harmful chemical reactions,” she added in a press release.

Ana Islas, senior chemistry student, is still working on the study to look at the ratio of menthol in these flavored vape chemicals.

“It is interesting to see something so prevalent and try to use scientific research to inform the public,” she said. “I am particularly interested in how much menthol in it can affect the CO concentration. We are wrapping up our data results that way we can get a clearer picture of what our research is telling us but our preliminary results lead to imply that there are differences between the compounds that could affect the amount of CO in the vapor.”

With that, the research will continue to look in the additional chemicals that could be potentially dangerous to e-cigarette users and soon, results can be found.

“There are amazing researchers working on this,” Dutcher said. “I am so proud of our students.”

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