Bud Offermann, MSME, PE, CIH – The Hazards of E-Cigarettes

Air Date: 9-19-2014| Episode: 340

This week on IAQ Radio Bud Offermann returns to discuss his recent research on The Hazards of E-Cigarettes…

Full Description: 

This week on IAQ Radio Bud Offermann returns to discuss his recent research on The Hazards of E-Cigarettes.  Mr. Offermann has over 25 years experience as an IAQ researcher, sick building investigator, mitigation planner, healthy building design consultant, expert witness, technical author, and workshop instructor. He is president of Indoor Environmental Engineering, a San Francisco based IAQ consulting firm.


Bud Offerman

Bud Offerman

Under Mr. Offermann’s supervision IEE has developed both pro-active and reactive IAQ measurement methods and diagnostic protocols. He has been a recipient of State and Federal research grants regarding building air quality and ventilation field studies (e.g. EPA BASE study of IAQ in office buildings and schools), tracer gas techniques, in situ contaminant emission rate measurements, and the development of indoor air quality measurement instrumentation.


Prior to starting up Indoor Environmental Engineering, Mr. Offermann was a Staff Scientist with the Building Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality Program, Energy and Environment Division, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley, CA.


ZMan’s Blog:

Smoke and Mirrors

Bud Offermann has over 30 years experience as an IAQ researcher, sick building investigator, mitigation planner, healthy building design consultant, expert witness, technical author and workshop instructor.

While experimenting with cigarette smoking at a bus top in the 1960s, young Bud Offermann was busted by his mom who immediately threw him into her car and drove him to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute where he saw firsthand people smoking cigarettes through holes in their necks. That experience, left a strong impression of the dangers of smoking which led to work with OSHA and ASHRAE on eliminating exposures to tobacco smoke indoors. After a tip from a “deep throat” within ASHRAE, Bud sent an emergency action request to the President of ASHRAE (the first in the history of the Society) in the 1990s to remove accommodation for cigarette smoking from ASHRAE Standard 62.


Nuggets mined from today’s episode:

  • E-cigs originated in China.
  • E-cigs are designed to closely mimic the experience of smoking in all ways.
  • “Big Tobacco” is in the E-cig business.
  • Claims by E-cig makers that the only emissions from E-cigs are harmless water vapor are big lies!
  • E-cigs are known to produce carcinogens such as  formaldehyde, nitrosamines, and metals. The metals are from the electrical metal components.
  • E-cigs burst onto the market without adequate research. E-cigs emit many hazardous chemicals.
  • E-cigs have: a battery power source, nichrome wires embedded in absorbent material that transports the liquid to a heater that vaporizes the liquid where it condenses in the mouthpiece. E-cigs aerosolize not vaporize. The internal temperature of some E-cigs is 350° C.
  • E-cigs contain liquid blend of carrier (propylene glycol and/or glycerol), nicotine, flavoring. While propylene glycol and glycerol are GRAS (generally regarded as safe for ingestion by the FDA), the exposure route of ingestion is far different than inhalation. When E-cigs are inhaled, oil coats the lungs. E-cig droplets are very small sub-micron and penetrate deeply into the lungs. Aerosolized propylene glycol is known to cause eye and respiratory irritation.
  • Some E-cig manufacturers are forthcoming about what is contained in their products while others are not.
  • While all brands of E-cigs produce harmful chemicals, some brands of E-cigs  produce much more of these chemicals. E-cig hazards are understated, the tip of the iceberg is what we see while the majority is out of sight.
  • E-cigs really are neither smoking cessation devices nor nicotine delivery systems.
  • E-cig flavorings are designed to appeal to kids.
  • “Thank You for Smoking” is a novel and movie about tobacco lobbyists.
  • E-cig liquids are unregulated and there is a wide variance in quality control. E-cig liquids are hazardous and may be absorbed transdermally.
  • The FDA has proposed rulings, which will require manufacturers to register and list ingredients, not claim reduced health risks without supporting data, and require a minimum age for purchase.
  • Each inhaled puff on an E-cig can contain concentrations of formaldehyde above NIOSH/IDLH (Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health).
  • E-cig emissions indoors are carried on air currents and will spread throughout buildings. No engineering approach (ventilation or air cleaning) can be relied upon to protect non-users. Banning e-cig use indoors is the only way to insure the protection of non-users.
  • ASHRAE 62.1-2013 has drafted an Addenda “c” which will extend the controls required for tobacco smoking indoors (i.e., no smoking indoors) to e-cigs.
  • Surprises during research included: thermal oxidation products of glycol, the extremely large amount of oil deposited in lungs and the carryover of nitrosamines from nicotine extraction into the e-cig fluids.

While Bud doesn’t totally disagree that E-cigs may be less harmful than tobacco smoking he is an advocate that E-cigs be controlled by the same regulations which govern tobacco smoking.


Today’s music: “Electric Boogie (The Electric Slide) by Marcia Griffiths


Z-Man signing off