Environmental Impacts of E-cigarettes and Vapes

● What are E-cigarettes? What are Vapes? What are they made of?

E-cigarettes: electronic cigarettes are the alternative to normal cigarettes. They are composed of a liquid consisting of the following components- nicotine, flavoring chemicals, VOCs, formaldehyde and other additives. Instead of fire, a battery is used to heat up the liquid and an aerosol is formed which is inhaled into the lungs.

Vaping: the use of e-cigarettes is commonly known as vaping. Derived from the term ‘vapor’ because of the fact that a vapor is created which is then inhaled. However, vape devices actually create a mist containing tiny suspended particles but it may contain less nicotine and can be used as alternatives for other drugs like marijuana.

DIFFERENCE: regular cigarettes are used by burning tobacco and vaping is when batteries are used to heat up a liquid to create an aerosol which is then inhaled.


Although it is believed that e-cigarettes/vaping are less harmful than regular smoking; it is not entirely true as it contains the same chemicals as a regular cigarette so there are still health risks attached to it. Some of the effects of vaping/E-cigarettes are:

1. Vaping may cause Asthma: as the nicotine and other particles inhaled in the mist can cause irritation and inflammation in the lungs that can result in scarring and narrowing of tubes responsible for gaseous exchange in the body.

2. Vaping causes carbon monoxide levels in the blood to increase by 4 times. This can consequently cause heart failures.

3. Vaping can cause cancer: many liquids used in vaping devices or e-cigarettes also contain carcinogens like formaldehyde that can cause lung cancer. Many e-cigarettes claiming to be nicotine free are actually proven to contain nicotine.

4. E-cigarettes contain nicotine that are known to cause organ damage specifically brain damage as it can have negative effects on brain development, blood pressure and restricts blood flow in arteries.

5. E-cigarettes may additionally also contain heavy metals like nickel, tin, cadmium etc. That can accumulate in the smoker’s body over time and cause various lung diseases, and other chronic illnesses.

6. Vaping has many short term side effects like- headaches, shortness of breath, dry and irritated mouth and throat. More severe effects include developing COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, epilepsy, obstructive sleep apnea and heart diseases.

7. There is also a risk of exploding batteries in many vaping devices that have resulted in several injuries and burns.

8. The most serious condition caused by Vaping is EVALI- (E cigarettes or Vaping Associated Lung Injury) which causes widespread damage in the lungs with symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain and smoker’s cough these together may culminate into lung injuries that could be fatal.

You might also be interested in: What Is Environmental Toxicology And What Are Its Branches?


1. E-cigarettes are beneficial to the environment in the sense that they do not create smoke that contains the harmful products of the cigarette.

2. Vape devices are toxic waste. They not only increase plastic pollution due to discarding of single use plastics and vape devices, but also the chemical residue present in the discarded containers of the device are very harmful for the environment.

3. Vape devices cannot be recycled because the plastic pods used to contain the nicotine is still present in trace amounts and is considered hazardous waste as nicotine is a neurotoxin and had also been used in pesticides.

4. Vaping also results in microplastic abundance due to single use plastic devices generated as waste. This plastic breaks down and find its way into our oceans where it can be accumulates in marine life and reduces drinking water quality.

5. E-cigarettes generate electronic waste in the form of circuit boards used in their vaporizers and lithium ion batteries which cannot be simply discarded. These batteries when irresponsibly dumped, leach their chemicals into the environment causing soil contamination, underground water pollution and land pollution.

6. The heavy metals present in the vaping fluid may also cause heavy metal contamination in the environment due to improper disposal.

Also check out: 10 Indoor Plants For Improving Indoor Air Quality At Home


Vaping or smoking in any form is addictive and can cause health problems and aggravate other underlying diseases. Vaping is harmful for both humans and the environment. It may even increase the chance of contracting other diseases due to low immunity and also contributes to the ever increasing problem of plastic pollution.

Also, check out Sources and Effects of Common Air Pollutants

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