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I want to start a new series of posts…and they may be a little controversial. In these posts I will share my perspective on a trending topic or issue. Frequently I’ll be critiquing said trend from the perspective of a scientist and toxicologist, so buckle up! You may not agree with me on all of them, and that’s fine! Since it’s been on my mind a lot lately, I want to talk today about vaping.

Have you heard about vaping in the news lately? If you missed the controversy, vaping has been linked to lung damage and even death (!!!). The deaths have included young people, and they’ve happened across the country. Um, yikes!

My main beef with this trend is pretty simple. It’s appalling that vaping products are pretty much unregulated. We don’t even know what’s in there! There are flavors, which can be complex chemical mixtures, but also *many* other chemicals. And people are using these products all the time without thinking twice about it.

Why is this so disturbing?

Imagine heating up a bunch of unknown chemicals until they vaporize, and then sucking them into one of the most fragile areas of your body– your lungs. Lungs are designed to be delicate and sensitive, it helps them do their job (gas exchange). They work very well for us and are honestly incredible. Not only do we not know what chemicals are in the vaping products, we don’t know how they may change once heated to vaporization. So many unknowns!

I know that most vape users probably don’t think about the fact that the industry is barely regulated. I think it’s easy to assume that it’s been checked by the relevant governing bodies before it hits the shelves, but the vaping industry is ahead of the regulators. There is so much we don’t know about these products AND there are counterfeiters out there too! Counterfeit products are even more likely to contain dicey chemicals.

As a toxicologist, it really bothers me to see how common place vaping has become. I wish I could get through to younger folks and tell them about the risks associated with this trend. It worries me that there might be a generation of people with lung damage. But of course, it’s not just young people using these products, it’s people of all ages! 

I could go on and on about my concerns around vaping, but I will leave it at that for today. Please reach out if you have a question for me about this trend.

Have you noticed this trend? What are your thoughts on vaping?