Dihydroxyacetone Levels in Electronic Cigarettes: Wick Temperature and Toxin Formation

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Aerosol Science and Technology

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Recently, we reported the presence of dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the active ingredient in sunless tanners, in the aerosol of an electronic cigarette. DHA has been shown to react with DNA in vitro. The FDA restricts the use of DHA to external application only. It states that it should not be inhaled, ingested, or come into contact with any areas containing mucous membranes, due to unknown risk. Herein, the quantification of DHA in the aerosols of three brands of e-cigarettes has been carried out. These included two devices with horizontal heating coil configurations as well as one with a sub-ohm resistance vertical heating coil. In order to understand and begin to address the origin of DHA and related aerosol products, the wicking properties of the three e-cigarettes were compared. DHA levels were analyzed by a combination of GS/MS and 1H NMR. DHA was found in all three e-cigarettes, with substantially less in the sub-ohm, vertical coil device as compared to the horizontal coil devices (e.g., 0.088 µg/puff vs. 2.29 µg/puff, respectively). Correspondingly, the temperature of the wet layer of the wick for the vertical coil was relatively stable, compared to the wicks for the horizontal coils, upon increasing battery power output. This result is in agreement with prior studies of e-cigarette wicking efficiency and aerosol toxin formation. The temperature measurements reported are a simple means for comparing devices with different design properties during operation.



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