by Ryan Fu •
“There’s no such thing as a safe cigarette.” This is a line that has been used to describe menthols, filtered cigarettes, and slims, but it also applies to the latest product for smokers: electronic cigarettes. They have been widely heralded by users and manufacturers as a completely harmless smoking alternative, but there isn’t much research to back up that statement. Recent studies have shown that they still contain tiny particles that can irritate lung tissue and could cause disease.
Modern electronic cigarettes have been available for a decade and have been booming in popularity. Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigs don’t burn dried tobacco leaves doused in nearly 600 additives; 69 of which are carcinogenic. Instead, a battery-powered device heats a liquid solution (called e-liquid) of nicotine and flavors, creating an aerosol that is inhaled to simulate the physical sensation of smoking in a process known as “vaping”.
Higher end models of e-cigs allow the user to adjust the voltage from the battery, which regulates the intensity of the heating element. As the solution gets hotter, it intensifies the effect of the nicotine hit. Unfortunately, these higher temperatures also affect the glycerin and propylene glycol used as solvents within the e-liquid, converting them to carbonyls found in cigarettes such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.
Earlier this year, a study found that increasing an e-cig’s voltage from 3.2V to 4.8V while using an e-liquid with both solvents produced almost as much formaldehyde as a traditional cigarette. While the human body produces formaldehyde as a byproduct of normal metabolic activity in the cells, it is suspected of being carcinogenic when inhaled. The same study also found that at lower voltages, e-cigs produced up to 800 times less formaldehyde than a cigarette. While this might sound a lot safer, the size of the vapor particles and the delivery method into the lungs heavily impact the risk of disease.
Particles found in inhaled cigarette smoke have a median size of 0.3-0.5 microns. Testing has found that the e-cigarette particles have a median of 0.18-0.27 microns. About 40% of these particles can travel deep into the lungs and become embedded in the alveoli, where gas exchange occurs. Even if the particle itself isn’t toxic, the size alone places a burden on the lungs and can cause disease.
As vaping is still fairly new, there just has not been enough time to do the necessary long-term studies regarding health risks. Though these early studies do hint that e-cigs are a better option than traditional smoking, that isn’t really saying a lot, because cigarettes are pretty terrible. Even if vaping is better than smoking, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. As its popularity continues to grow, it is important to understand the full risk associated with vaping for both the user and those exposed to the vapor secondhand.
Credit Janet Raloff, Science News
What a crazy but good episode of the Leftovers this week. First off, I’ve never seen someone really get stoned before unless you count last night when I gave my friend a pot brownie in which he got really stoned. (Sorry, I had too) This episode reminded of the Fight Club when Meat Loaf’s character Robert Paulsen got killed for their cause, making him a martyr for their group. The gruesome death of Gladys caused many people of the Guilty Remnant to question what they were going, especially Laurie Garvey. But just like Liv Tyler’s character calmly tells us, it was just a matter of time before people pushed back. The GRs finally pushed enough buttons to cause many people including one organization to react violently. As a society at what point do we chose to say that a particular group aren’t part of the human race because their values don’t match ours? Do we have the right to treat them less than human beings?
After finding the mangled body Gladys, Laurie has a mini panic attack, which causes the leader of the GRs, Patty Levin, to take Laurie to a retreat to calm her down. At the retreat, Patty tells Laurie to take a break from being a GR, giving her civilian clothes, buying her breakfast and allowing her to talk. But Laurie does not utter a single word as Patty tells her that she brought Gladys there a year ago in the same booth, in which Patty wants to know if she is still part of the team because in her words,
“There is no room for doubt. Doubt is going to fire you up until you are ash.”
Laurie silently reassures Patty that she’s still down for the cause while Chief Garvey is starting to realize that everything he does for the town is going unnoticed. As he tries to protect the people of Mapleton with a mandatory curfew, the town people turn on him especially his new buddy/dog killer, Dean, tells the Chief why should we even care about the GRs, they don’t care about us, which leads the council to not pass the curfew. Garvey still decides to protect the GRs by giving them “rape whistles” but he also is trying to figure out where his wife is with the help of Liv Tyler’s character, Meg, but she tells him,
“She’s not your wife anymore.”
To exacerbate Chief Garvey’s problems, he finds out the ATFEC would gladly exterminate the GRs as the agent tells Garvey that the group are an infestation that should be taken care of like rodents. This leads Garvey to wonder what the hell is going on in his life? He is starting to lose his mind and material things like his white shirts and bagels but he is also starting to lose his family which leads him to drink more as we see the Chief slowly coming apart. He realizes he still has to be strong for his daughter, which we can see in a great scene with Garvey and his daughter, telling her that he is divorcing her mother, Laurie.
That scene was very powerful because Garvey and his daughter are still in love with Laurie but they recognize that she is not the same person anymore. Really good episode of the Leftovers but fantastic acting on the part of the actors and actresses especially from Justin Theroux, in which I hope Chief Garvey gets his shit together because I think there is going to be “shit-storm” coming soon from different groups that are trying to get the heart and minds of the people.