Deadly Dioxin In E-Cigarettes? The Hidden Role of Splenda

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You may think that sweet e-cig liquid is a safer alternative to cigarettes, but a hidden danger lurks within those enticing vapor clouds. Recent research reveals that sucralose, a common vaping sweetener, transforms into highly toxic dioxin when heated.

Vaping's Bittersweet Secret: How Sucralose Turns Deadly

Countless smokers have switched to vaping, lured by the promise of a "safer" nicotine fix. E-cigarette liquids come in myriad fun flavors, from cotton candy to crème brûlée, often sweetened with sucralose.1 But don't let those sweet vapor clouds fool you - a sinister transformation takes place when sucralose is heated, producing the notoriously toxic chemical dioxin.2  

What is Dioxin?

Dioxins are a group of highly toxic chemical compounds known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). They accumulate in the food chain and can cause severe health effects like reproductive issues, developmental problems, immune system damage, hormone disruption, and cancer.3 The World Health Organization lists dioxins as part of the "dirty dozen," the world's worst pollutants.4

Sucralose: The Not-So-Sweet Truth

Sucralose, marketed as Splenda, is an artificial sweetener found in many e-cig liquids. When heated, sucralose breaks down and interacts with other compounds to form chloropropanols and dioxins.2 One study found that vaping sucralose at high temperatures caused a complete degradation and release of toxic chloride ions.5 Learn more by reading our article CONSUMER ALERT: Splenda Releases Toxic Dioxin When Heated

Metals Make It Worse

As if dioxins weren't bad enough, vaping also exposes users to harmful metals like chromium, nickel, and lead.6 These toxic metals come from e-cig heating coils and other components, contaminating the inhaled vapor. Studies show that e-liquid chemicals intensify this metal exposure, with lactic acid nicotine salts being the worst offenders - producing metal concentrations hundreds of times higher than cigarette smoke.7

The Vaping Illusion

Many people perceive vaping as a healthier choice than smoking cigarettes. However, this is a dangerous misconception. While e-cigs generally have lower levels of toxic chemicals than cigarettes, they are far from harmless.8 The formation of dioxins from heated sucralose is just one example of vaping's hidden hazards.

E-cigs also contain ultrafine particles, metals, volatile organic compounds, and carcinogenic chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene.9 Long-term health effects are still largely unknown, but emerging research links vaping to lung damage, cardiovascular problems, and even DNA damage.10

A Call for Action

It's crucial that e-cig manufacturers and regulatory agencies address the risk of dioxin formation from sucralose. At minimum, e-liquids containing sucralose should carry clear warnings about potential dioxin exposure when heated. Ideally, sucralose and other dioxin-forming additives should be banned from vaping products altogether.

Consumers must also be educated about the true risks of vaping, counteracting the perception that it's a safe alternative to smoking. Only by bringing these hidden hazards to light can we protect public health from the bittersweet deception of vaping.

Learn more about the dangers of Splenda (sucralose) on our database.


References

1. Brown, J. E., & Luo, W. (2022). Toxicity of e-cigarettes: A review. Journal of Addiction Medicine, 16(3), 227-235. https://doi.org/10.1097/ADM.0000000000000908

2. Duell, A. K., Pankow, J. F., & Peyton, D. H. (2020). Chlorinated flavor chemicals in e-cigarettes: Diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione, and acetoin in a sample of 51 products, including fruit-, candy-, and cocktail-flavored e-cigarettes. Environmental Health Perspectives, 128(1), 17006. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP6628

3. World Health Organization. (2022). Dioxins and their effects on human health. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dioxins-and-their-effects-on-human-health

4. Ibid.

5. Rahn, A., & Yaylayan, V. A. (2010). Thermal degradation of sucralose and its potential in generating chloropropanols in the presence of glycerol. Food Chemistry, 118(1), 56-61. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2009.04.133

6. Olmedo, P., Goessler, W., Tanda, S., Grau-Perez, M., Jarmul, S., Aherrera, A., Chen, R., Hilpert, M., Cohen, J. E., Navas-Acien, A., & Rule, A. M. (2018). Metal concentrations in e-cigarette liquid and aerosol samples: The contribution of metallic coils. Environmental Health Perspectives, 126(2), 027010. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP2175

7. Pappas, R. S., Fresquez, M. R., Martone, N., & Watson, C. H. (2022). Lactic acid salts of nicotine potentiate the transfer of toxic metals into electronic cigarette aerosols. Toxics, 12(1), 65. https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics12010065

8. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2018). Public health consequences of e-cigarettes. National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/24952

9. Ibid.

10. Zahedi, A., Phandthong, R., Chaili, A., Leung, S., Omaiye, E., & Talbot, P. (2019). Mitochondrial stress response in neural stem cells exposed to electronic cigarettes. iScience, 16, 250-269. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2019.05.03

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