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Electrical features, liquid composition and toxicant emissions from ‘pod-mod’-like disposable electronic cigarettes


Introduction Use of flavoured pod-mod-like disposable electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has grown rapidly, particularly among cost-sensitive youth and young adults. To date, little is known about their design characteristics and toxicant emissions. In this study, we analysed the electrical and chemical characteristics and nicotine and pulmonary toxicant emission profiles of five commonly available flavoured disposable e-cigarettes and compared these data with those of a JUUL, a cartridge-based e-cigarette device that pod-mod-like disposables emulate in size and shape.

Methods Device construction, electrical power and liquid composition were determined. Machine-generated aerosol emissions including particulate matter, nicotine, carbonyl compounds and heavy metals were also measured. Liquid and aerosol composition were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry/flame ionisation detection, and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry.

Results We found that unlike JUUL, disposable devices did not incorporate a microcontroller to regulate electrical power to the heating coil. Quality of construction varied widely. Disposable e-cigarette power ranged between 5 and 9 W and liquid nicotine concentration ranged between 53 and 85 mg/mL (~95% in the protonated form). In 15 puffs, total nicotine yield for the disposables ranged between 1.6 and 6.7 mg, total carbonyls ranged between 28 and 138 µg, and total metals ranged between 1084 and 5804 ng. JUUL emissions were near the floors of all of these ranges.

Conclusions Disposable e-cigarettes are designed with high nicotine concentration liquids and are capable of emitting much higher nicotine and carbonyl species relative to rechargeable look-alike e-cigarettes. These differences are likely due to the lower quality in construction, unreliable labelling and lack of temperature control regulation that limits the power during operation. From a public health perspective, regulating these devices is important to limit user exposure to carbonyls and nicotine, particularly because these devices are popular with youth and young adults.

  • non-cigarette tobacco products
  • electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • carcinogens

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