E-CIG WARNING Could you be ALLERGIC to your e-cigarette? Vaping ‘could cause deadly reactions and chemical asthma
VAPING e-cigarettes could trigger deadly allergic reactions and "chemical" asthma, experts have warned.
Ingredients used to flavour e-liquids could aggravate the body's immune system.
An allergic reaction usually happens within a few minutes of exposure to an allergen - the compound that a person is allergic to.
Most mild reactions can cause symptoms including sneezing, red and itchy eyes, wheezing and coughing and a rash or worsening of asthma and eczema symptoms.
But, severe reactions can also occur, and are called anaphylaxis - a medical emergency that can prove life-threatening.
Experts say flavourings are an important part of the vaping experience.
But, some contain ingredients that act as allergens.
Dr Sandra Costigan, principal toxicologist at British American Tobacco, explained the most common type of allergy is caused by the skin coming into contact with an allergen.
Less common is a respiratory allergic reaction or "chemical asthma".
"Although respiratory allergy is much less common than skin allergy, the potential adverse effects are much more severe," Dr Costigan said.
Inhaling allergens over a long period of time can lead to symptoms ranging from mild breathing difficulties to fatal anaphylaxis.
To address the risk, researchers at British American Tobacco, have designed new guidelines.
There is no official rules or restrictions in Europe or the US, with regards to allergies and e-cigs.
British American Tobacco launched their first e-cig brand Vype in 2013, and now sell the devices across the world.
Dr Costigan said: "No two people have the same immune response, which is why it is important to tell people about allergens in a product even if all your data says most people shouldn't experience a problem."
With regards to skin allergens, Dr Costigan's team said any known allergen must be labelled as an ingredient if it is present at 0.1 per cent concentration or higher.
That's the case even if it is found that it can be used safely at higher concentrations.
The scientists said this will "help those consumers who already know" they are sensitive to certain ingredients, and help them avoid potentially dangerous e-liquids.
To test respiratory allergens, the researchers used a cocoa extract commonly used in e-liquids as a case study.
They found when something is suspected as a respiratory allergen, the concentration at which it could be used safely is too low for the ingredient to provide any flavour.
"We'd recommend against using cocoa extract in an e-liquid," said Dr Costigan.
"The risks just aren't worth the benefits."
She said all known respiratory allergens should be left out of e-liquids, to be safe.
In addition to skin and respiratory allergens, food allergens can also pose a risk.
Any food allergens included as ingredients should be well labelled, Dr Costigan's team concluded.
WHAT DO THE NEW VAPING RULES MEAN?
NEW vaping laws are set to come into force next month restricting the sale of e-cigarettes and e-liquids.
The new guidelines include :
Refillable tanks must have a capacity of no more than 2ml
E-liquids can not be sold in quantities greater than 10ml
Unless registered as a medicine e-liquids can not have a nicotine strength of more than 20mg/ml
E-liquid packaging must be child-resistant and tamper evident
Additives including colouring, caffeine and taurine are banned
All e-cigarettes and e-liquids must be registered with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency before they can be sold
Stricter labelling requirements
A wealth of scientific research has explored the health benefits and dangers of the devices, which are becoming increasingly popular.
E-cigarettes were designed to help smokers quit their deadly habit, and are marketed as a healthier alternative to regular fags.
The NHS agrees vaping is better for a smoker's health than regular tobacco.
Public Health England's independent review, published in 2015, found e-cigs are around 95 per cent safer than smoking.
The devices allow a vaper to inhale nicotine, without taking in the other harmful substances in tobacco.
But the health service also warns, e-cigs are not completely risk free.
Various scientific studies have shown they could cause damage to the lungs, be as dangerous to the heart as smoking, and increase the risk of severe strokes.
Earlier this year, public health experts in Wales called for flavoured e-liquids to be banned to stop young kids developing a taste for the potentially dangerous devices.
Sweetie flavours, such as bubblegum, strawberry and chocolate, encourage youngsters to try the devices, they argue.
But, leading charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the Independent British Vape Trade Association said flavoured liquids play an important role in encouraging smokers to quit.
Picture Source : GETTY IMAGES | ALAMY