Formaldehyde Study Discredited: Fears Used To Smear Vaping


The misinformation campaign that is directed towards vapers has experienced yet another blow to the cause.

This time, the Daily Caller reported on a study from Portland State University, where scientists claim to find high levels of formaldehyde when vaping. Chemistry professor and lead researcher on the study, David Peyton, claimed to have found levels of formaldehyde that were up to fifteen times higher than what was found in conventional cigarettes.

If it sounds sobering enough, the study wasn’t done yet. Mr. Peyton concluded in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine that vaping daily would lead to long-time exposure and could drastically contribute to vapers developing lung cancer.

But as we have reported before, this study has been deconstructed to the base facts, one of which is that vaping and formaldehyde have a relationship that is based on high-temperature settings.

The trouble with studies like these is that the methodology used to curate the results are rarely, if ever, used by real-life vapers. For example, the study simulated lung inhalation by using a syringe with a voltage setting that was atypical — the setting was much higher than the average 3.3 voltage setting used by most vapers.

What does this mean? It means that the scientists who were conducting the study — who have acknowledged that at a more normal setting, formaldehyde wasn’t detectable at all — were using rare circumstances to create their results. In other words, their study has been discredited on the basis of using circumstances not used by real vapers.

The truth is that at the level of voltage the scientists used, they were simulating what vapers call “dry puffing,” a phenomenon that happens at around 5 volts with prolonged vape puffs at about 5 seconds a piece. “Dry puffing” is very uncomfortable and causes overheating of the wick inside the coil and a burning sensation in the nose and throat of vapers. It is so uncomfortable that vapers avoid the phenomenon when possible.

As Gregory Conley, the current president of the American Vaping Association, said over a year ago, “In the real world, vapers avoid dry puffs by lowering the length of their puff as they increase voltage.” Again, this means that the formaldehyde levels cited in the study are null and void.

But the bigger picture here is that a more recent study, which focused on the levels of formaldehyde that were found in prepackaged vaping kits, completely obliterated the idea that vaping produces more formaldehyde than cigarettes. In a study was done at Pennsylvania State University, three vape kits were found to contain less than one-sixth of the permissible exposure of formaldehyde as regulated by the World Health Organization.

So what does this mean for the vaping public? Well, very little, unless you are vaping at high voltage levels. If you are vaping with high voltage levels, consider toning down the level or taking shorter puffs.

But for all other vapers, keep in mind that information is power — these studies are aimed at causing fear in the vaping community, and the only way to combat it is to know and understand how vaping works.

Jimmy, lover, blogger, vaper and ex-smoker. I’ve been blogging about and supporting Vaping since 2009. They changed my life and I think history will show them as one of the most significant public health invention of the 21st century.

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4 Responses

  1. Agnes Dumont says:

    I enjoyed your blog, Even after reading quite a few ecig sites, I am still not quite sure. The reason I have 2-3 degree copd. I quit smoking, chew a ton of gums, still I am missing my puffing. I have used ecig before, like them, but I fear that there could be a lot of chemicals stiĺ in ecigs. Could you provide the exact composition of tobacco flavor with nicotine. Looking forward for an honest answer, so I can vape again. Keep the good information coming in order to keep people well informed. Thanks Agnes

    • Jimmy Hafrey says:

      Hi Agnes, it will depend on the manufacturer but if you have COPD, we recommend you consult with your doctor before vaping. We’re not doctors so we feel you should seek their opinion.

  2. Lotta says:

    I had breathing problems, it was getting real bad when I quit smoking at the beginning of last august, tomorrow it is 8 months ago! Actually I did not plan on quitting, just bought my first e-cig in order to see if maybe I could use it to taper down my smoking, as my breathing problems were so bad I did not know what to do. I felt I had no choice, at the same time as I had tried so many times and just weren’t able to quit. It really had a nasty grip on me. But, after vaping for 5 minutes, I knew this was different. That this time, I could do it and I decided to not take another cigarette – EVER! I took my opened pack, went into my kitchen and taped it shut and marked it with the date and time, August 6th, 2015, 10:30… I have not looked back since!

    At first i vaped using 18 and 24mg’s. But soon I started DIY’ing my juice, as it was just easier for me than having to import juice (can’t buy nicotine juice in my country). So every time I mixed 200ml of base (using only PG/VG* and nicotine, calculated using’s calculator), I halved the amount of nicotine. I could not believe how easy it was to drop down that fast. At Christmas time, I was down to 1mg with no flavor, around 0.8mg after adding flavorings and additives (like koolada and menthol). I BTW only used tobacco flavor for a very short time, had I known better, I wouldn’t have used it at all from the very start, I so soon experienced that tobacco really does not taste nice, so why taste it when you don’t have to? My favorite flavors are fruits and berries with koolada and/or menthol. Very fresh and nice! Well, I had been feeling bad for a long time, but just figured it was because of having several chronic conditions and being disabled, but around 6 weeks ago, I had a heart attack. When I went into hospital, I was still at 0.8mg, but when I got home, I immediately mixed up zero nicotine base (1/3 PG, 2/3 VG*). It has gone amazingly well, but sometimes I do get cravings and I have “slipped up” a bit, by adding around 25% of my old 1mg juice base into my juice at the time, so I have a 0.2mg juice. Well, that is almost 120X less than what I started with – probably just enough to trick myself into thinking I get nicotine, LOL…

    I just had to give it a try a week or so ago, I dripped a drop – ONE drop – of 24mg juice onto each of the two coils in my dripper. You should have seen me. I was coughing SOOOOO bad, I could not believe it. It was horrible! I am very glad I did it, as it really put a big smile on my face feeling this, and realizing that I do not want it AT ALL!!!

    It is so amazingly satisfying to vape using no nicotine. I would never have believed it before I experienced it how relaxing and just super nice it is.

    After vaping a few weeks, it was as if I never smoked. I could quit my inhalers altogether. I used large amounts of asthma inhalers when I made the swap to vaping. I sometimes couldn’t even sit up in the morning, I had to do my inhalers first and lie there gasping for air for half an hour. I even had to take Ventoline first, as I wasn’t able to take the long acting one, since it had no gas propellant. It was horrible. But when winter came and I got colds, I had to start using an inhaler again, but I never take more than 1 puff a day. I could be up to 20 before… So it really is amazing.

    One thing I am very aware of avoiding, is dry puffs or even ever so slighly “semi-dry” puffs (those taste just a tad bit as if they have a “browned” taste). Then it is simply too warm. Just dial your mod down (this is a great reason for using a regulated mod – what I prefer to call “a proper vaporizer” as opposed to a cigalike or unregulated mods)! In fact, staying at just where your coil does not overheat, is when you get the most and the best flavor. And the flavor is CLEAN! It must be hot enough, but not too hot. I mean, you don’t want to have “fried” juice, just “boiled”, right? Makes perfect sense! If you overheat your coil, it starts to become close to smoking – not what we want!

    I am SO grateful to those who have made vaping possible for me!!! 🙂

    *PG – Propylene Glycol, VG – Vegetable Glycerine – both pharma grade. I buy both online.

    • Lotta says:

      Ooops, just one addition to Agnes. Of course I agree with the other poster who mentions talking to your doctor about it, but I can just add what they said to me at the hospital (cardiology dept.): “As long as you vape no nicotine, we have no objections.”. But, of course, they object to the use of nicotine because it does have effects on blood vessels. For you, with lung disease, it is all the 5000+ other substances in the smoke that is the huge problem. But, I would nonetheless strive towards using as low nicotine as I could, if I were you, I’m just thinking of my recent experience with coughing because of nicotine. It is somewhat irritating and does provide a throat hit. But, I more than anything must reiterate what I said above, even after 24 hours, I felt a huge difference. I could fill my lungs to their very bottom, something I had not done in years. A month later, I was like a new person. So ridding of these other substances, made a huge difference.

      By all means, discuss it with your doctor, but also be aware that your doctor may be clueless about vaping. He/she could even be very prejudiced. But, I would ask my doctor to control my health as I transitioned to vaping, if I were you, as it is a great time for checking where you are at the start and as you go. Also, in order to set yourself up for success, go to a vape shop and ask for their help to pick out a good device and a good tank. Don’t waste your money on buying one of the tiny cigalike types, get something proper as you go, as you will want to get one soon anyway. Personally I now use a rebuildable tank (or dripper at home), but I would start out with a good tank with disposable coils at first and a regulated mod/battery which uses a loose, rechargable battery, that way you can have a battery charger and a few batteries and always have a new one ready – and no need to charge with the whole unit “tied” to a wall socket or USB. My favorite is a quite reasonable unit, I actually won one for free @ the e-cigarette forum first, then bought another (and have two more sitting in the cabinet, as there is a possibility that mods become illegal where I live, just wanted to be set for quite a while, LOL). Mine is a Cloupor Mini Plus and I got mine real cheap from fasttech dot com. I like it because it is small and fits nicely in my pocket too. It’s the perfect size for my small girl hands… 🙂 I also have an iStick TC40W, but now I have let somebody else use it. But I like the Cloupor better as it does not have the battery built-in, as the iStick has. I do not have more wattage, as I don’t need it. I vape at low wattages anyway. Even if my two favorites have Temperature Control, I prefer Variable Voltage (the iStick only has Variable Wattage, but I just click the wattage until the display shows the Voltage I want, so it does the same job). It is just so easy. Even if I build the tank myself, I have just bought ready made coils, because my arthritis has been so bad. But I have tried making some too, and it is really not that difficult, but you have to do your homework first (read a lot and watch lots of videos online) and get things like ohm meter, multimeter and different tools. So it’s nice to have a tank with disposables first, then go to rebuildables when you are covered with that tank first and then can start dabbling in building. I love building myself and like the environmental friendliness in not using disposable heads. And, long term, it is much cheaper too (not in the short term though! And there are lots of temptations when it comes to rebuildable tanks, I am getting quite a collection already).

      I realize that it is a while since your comment, hope you are getting a mail about these postings though. Thought I should share, in case you see it… Please do the switch, no matter what you do, there is no doubt in my mind, vaping is one hell of a lot better than smoking! Parden my french… 🙂

      Good luck! 🙂

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