Ozonolysis of Terpene Flavor Additives in Vaping Emissions: Elevated Production of Reactive Oxygen Species and Oxidative Stress


Chem Res Toxicol. 2024 May 22. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.4c00051. Online ahead of print.


The production of e-cigarette aerosols through vaping processes is known to cause the formation of various free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Despite the well-known oxidative potential and cytotoxicity of fresh vaping emissions, the effects of chemical aging on exhaled vaping aerosols by indoor atmospheric oxidants are yet to be elucidated. Terpenes are commonly found in e-liquids as flavor additives. In the presence of indoor ozone (O3), e-cigarette aerosols that contain terpene flavorings can undergo chemical transformations, further producing ROS and reactive carbonyl species. Here, we simulated the aging process of the e-cigarette emissions in a 2 m3 FEP film chamber with 100 ppbv of O3 exposure for an hour. The aged vaping aerosols, along with fresh aerosols, were collected to detect the presence of ROS. The aged particles exhibited 2- to 11-fold greater oxidative potential, and further analysis showed that these particles formed a greater number of radicals in aqueous conditions. The aging process induced the formation of various alkyl hydroperoxides (ROOH), and through iodometric quantification, we saw that our aged vaping particles contained significantly greater amounts of these hydroperoxides than their fresh counterparts. Bronchial epithelial cells exposed to aged vaping aerosols exhibited an upregulation of the oxidative stress genes, HMOX-1 and GSTP1, indicating the potential for inhalation toxicity. This work highlights the indirect danger of vaping in environments with high ground-level O3, which can chemically transform e-cigarette aerosols into new particles that can induce greater oxidative damage than fresh e-cigarette aerosols. Given that the toxicological characteristics of e-cigarettes are mainly associated with the inhalation of fresh aerosols in current studies, our work may provide a perspective that characterizes vaping exposure under secondhand or thirdhand conditions as a significant health risk.

PMID:38776470 | DOI:10.1021/acs.chemrestox.4c00051