Vapers should rest a little easier, thanks to a new study clarifying the amount of formaldehyde produced while vaping. Despite a previous paper in the New England Journal of Medicine — which got a fair bit of media play in January — recent research indicates you shouldn’t worry about formaldehyde if you vape at a low, pleasant-tasting voltage.

Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, a Greek cardiologist who published a study Thursday in the journal Addiction, aimed to course-correct the narrative. He had seven vapers puff four times at various power levels — 6.5, 7.5, 9, and 10 watts — with third-generation e-cigarettes (two Kayfun Lite pluses, with differently sized-wicks). By trapping the emitted aerosol, Farsalinos and his colleagues could measure the amounts of aldehydes in each puff. Using a thin-wicked e-cigarette at 9 and 10 watts resulted in highest levels of formaldehyde (up to 250 times the other conditions — but also unpleasant dry puff sensations, which experienced vapors avoid. Under normal conditions, vapes produced a maximum of 11.3 µg of formaldehyde; to exceed World Health Organization limits for exposure, the researchers calculated this would mean more than 2000 puffs a day.

No one is suggesting that consuming tobacco is great for your body, and studies are still trying to tease out the health effects of e-cigarettes. That being said, if you’re going to smoke, science suggests you vape. Peter Hajek, a clinical psychologist at Queen Mary University of London, agrees. “Vapers are not exposed to dangerous levels of aldehydes,” said Hajek, commenting on Farsalinos’ research in a press release. “My reading of the evidence is that e-cigarettes are at least 95% safer than smoking. Smokers should be encouraged to switch to vaping.”

Members of the Food and Drug Administration seem on board, too. “If we could get all of those people [who smoke] to completely switch all of their cigarettes to noncombustible cigarettes,” Mitch Zeller, director of the Center for Tobacco Products, said at a hearing earlier in May, “it would be good for public health.”

Photo credit from http://vaping360.com/e-cigarettes.

Ben is a science journalist who's excited to be alive just before the future. In addition to Inverse, his work has appeared at The Washington Post, Salon, Ars Technica, and The Los Angeles Times.

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