Passive exposure to e-cigarette emissions: irritation symptoms, severity and duration
 
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1
Hellenic Cancer Society, George D. Behrakis Research Lab, Greece
2
American College of Greece, Institute of Public Health, Greece
3
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece
4
WHO Collaborating Center for Tobacco Control, Institut Català d’Oncologia - Institut d'Investigació Biomèdica de Bellvitge (ICO-IDIBELL), Spain
5
Universitat de Barcelona, Epidemiology and Public Health, Spain
6
Academy of Athens, Biomedical Research Foundation (BRFAA), Greece
Publish date: 2018-03-01
 
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A257
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ABSTRACT:
Background:
The current study, part of the EU H2020 funded TackSHS project, aimed to test the hypothesis that passive exposure to e-cigarette emissions provokes systemic symptoms and to determine their severity and timing.

Methods:
30 nonsmokers, 18-35 years old, BMI< 30, with no significant medical history, no medications, normal physical examination and spirometry, were passively exposed in a 35m3 room, during a 30-minute Control (no passive smoking) and Experimental (standardized e-cigarette smoking by a human smoker) session.
PM2.5 concentrations were 0.027 mg/m3 and 3.3 mg/m3 during the Control and Experimental sessions, respectively. Participants completed an irritation questionnaire, grading symptom severity at T0 (pre-exposure), T15 (midway), T30 (exposure endpoint) and T60 (30-minute post-exposure) in both sessions.
The questionnaire showed internal consistency (Cronbach's α>0.70). Scores 1-5 were generated for the environmental, ocular, nasal, airway and general complaints by adding symptoms per system. Analysis was performed using Wilcoxon-signed rank sum test and Spearman correlation (p< 0.05).

Results:
The most frequent and intense symptoms reported were mild eye burning, nasal and airway dryness.
Ocular irritation score gradually increased from T0 reaching a significant increase by T30 (p=0.034). Nasal score increased significantly from T0 to T15 (p=0.008) and remained significantly higher at T30. Airway irritation score increased significantly from T0 to T15 (p=0.004) and furthermore from T15 to T30 (p=0.018). All symptoms returned to T0 scores by T60 (p>0.05).
The increased scores for ocular, nasal and airway complaints were positively correlated with increased environmental scores at T15 and T30. General complaint scores showed a tendency to increase at T30 that was positively correlated with increased environmental scores at T30.

Conclusions:
Short-term exposure of nonsmokers to e-cigarette emissions resulted in mild ocular, nasal and airway symptoms that persisted up to 30 minutes and were positively correlated with environmental indices. Further research is needed to investigate long-term health implications.

eISSN:1617-9625