Electronic Cigarettes and the Work Environment
The use of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool or as an alternative to traditional ways of lighting up is raising questions about airborne exposure risks.
Much still needs to be studied regarding the widespread use of e-cigarettes and how they impact both those who use these products and people in the vicinity who may be exposed to chemicals in vapors and how e-cigarettes are addressed by employers in the work environment and in places designated as smoke-free.
In October of last year, the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) released a white paper about electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Electronic Cigarettes in the Indoor Environment discusses the growing popularity of e-cigarettes worldwide and concerns about the limited information about these products and potential exposure concerns for their users and others through second-hand inhalation. The document specifically mentions the addictive nature of nicotine and other substances that may be in e-cigarette emissions. These include aerosolized flavorings, propylene glycol and other intentional or unintentional substances.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that e-cigarettes have not been fully studied, so consumers currently do not know the potential risks of e-cigarettes when used as intended and how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during use. Currently, only e-cigarettes that are marketed for therapeutic purposes are regulated by the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), whereas the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco.
The FDA has indicated that it regularly receives voluntary reports of adverse events involving e-cigarettes from consumers, health professionals and concerned members of the public. Whether e-cigarettes caused all of these issues or not is not known, but they have included:
- Congestive heart failure
- Hypotension, and
- Other health problems.
“Much still needs to be studied regarding the widespread use of e-cigarettes and how they impact both those who use these products and people in the vicinity who may be exposed to chemicals in vapors and how e-cigarettes are addressed by employers in the work environment and in places designated as smoke-free,” said Nicole Greeson, CIH® and Chair of ABIH®. “For employers concerned about worker exposure to nicotine and other potential contaminants due to e-cigarettes, Certified Industrial Hygienists are trained and experienced in quantifying and managing exposure risks through air sampling, health risk analysis, hazard communication, community exposure, and engineering controls & ventilation. These and other skills are harnessed by CIHs to protect workers and the public from airborne exposure issues.”
To learn more about the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®, Certified Industrial Hygienist® credential or to locate a CIH® to perform industrial hygiene services, please visit www.ABIH.org, email abih@ABIH.org or call (517) 321-2638.
About the American Board of Industrial Hygiene ®
Since 1960, ABIH®, a not-for-profit corporation, has been the world’s largest, premier organization for certifying professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene. ABIH® is responsible for ensuring high-quality certification including education, experience, examination, certification maintenance and ethics enforcement. Currently, more than 6800 people are certified to use the CIH® designation.
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