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Systemic biomarkers of exposure associated with ENDS use: a scoping review


Objective This scoping review provides an overview of the existing literature on biomarkers of exposure from electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) use and identifies gaps in existing knowledge.

Data sources We searched two international databases (PubMed and Web of Science) to identify relevant studies published from August 2013 to February 2021.

Data selection Studies were included if they assessed and compared biomarkers of exposure between exclusive ENDS users, non-users, exclusive cigarette smokers, dual users of ENDS and cigarettes or cigarette smokers who switch to ENDS.

Data extraction and synthesis Of the 5074 studies identified, 188 studies met criteria and were selected for full-text screening. Of these, 27 studies were selected for inclusion and data extraction.

Conclusions Consistent, although limited, evidence shows that exclusive ENDS users have elevated levels of biomarkers of certain volatile organic compounds (VOCs; eg, acrylamide and acrylonitrile), metals (eg, cadmium and selenium) and propylene glycol compared with non-users; however, evidence for biomarkers of other toxicants (eg, acrolein, benzene and chromium) is mixed. Biomarkers of most VOCs are lower in ENDS users compared with cigarette smokers, and cigarette smokers who switch to ENDS consistently show reductions in VOC biomarkers. Evidence comparing metal exposures from exclusive ENDS use, cigarette smoking and dual use is mixed and depends on the metal. ENDS and e-liquid characteristics as well as use patterns may be associated with elevated exposure to VOCs and metals. Additional rigorous, controlled studies can assess biomarker exposures from ENDS use and inform the overall risk–benefit of ENDS use for different user populations.

  • electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • public policy
  • addiction

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