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Electronic cigarette chemicals transfer from a vape shop to a nearby business in a multiple-tenant retail building
  1. Careen Khachatoorian1,
  2. Peyton Jacob III2,
  3. Neal L Benowitz3,
  4. Prue Talbot4
  1. 1 Cell Molecular and Developmental Biology Graduate Program, University of California, Riverside, California, USA
  2. 2 Division of Clinical Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA
  3. 3 Departments of Medicine, Psychiatry and Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA
  4. 4 Department of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology, University of California, Riverside, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Prue Talbot, Department of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, USA; talbot{at}


Background Electronic cigarettes (ECs) are nicotine delivery devices that produce aerosol without combustion of tobacco; therefore, they do not produce sidestream smoke. Nevertheless, many users exhale large clouds of aerosol that can result in passive exposure of non-users. Analogous to thirdhand cigarette smoke, the exhaled aerosol also settles on indoor surfaces where it can produce a residue. We refer to this residue as EC exhaled aerosol residue (ECEAR). Our objective was to determine if exhaled EC aerosol transferred from a vape shop in a multiple-tenant retail building, where it was produced, to a nearby business (field site) where it could deposit as ECEAR.

Methods We examined the build-up of ECEAR in commonly used materials (cotton towel and paper towels) placed inside the field site across from the vape shop. Materials were subjected to short-term (days) and long-term (months) exposures. Nicotine, other alkaloids and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) were identified and quantified in controls and field site samples using analytical chemical techniques.

Results Nicotine and other alkaloids were detected after 1 day of exposure in the field site, and these chemicals generally increased as exposure times increased. TSNAs, which have been linked to carcinogenesis, were also detected in short-term and long-term exposed samples from the field site.

Conclusions In a multiple-tenant retail building, chemicals in EC aerosol travelled from a vape shop into an adjacent business where they deposited forming ECEAR. Regulatory agencies and tenants occupying such buildings should be aware of this potential environmental hazard.

  • electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • environment
  • nicotine
  • secondhand smoke

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  • Contributors Conception and design: PT, NLB and CK. Chemical analysis: PJ. Data collection and interpretation: CK and PT. Data analysis and writing of the manuscript: CK and PT. Editing the manuscript: PJ and NLB. Data processing and sample preparation: CK.

  • Funding This research was supported by Grant #26IR-0018 from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program of California (TRDRP) to PT and grant P30 DA012393 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and grant # S10 RR026437 from the National Center for Research Resources.

  • Disclaimer The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of TRDRP, NIH, the FDA or other granting agencies.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement All of the relevant data are included in the manuscript.