Nearly half of e-cigarettes sold in Japan produce carcinogen in vapor


A health ministry research group found Thursday that four of the nine electronic cigarettes sold in Japan produce vapor with high levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

A panel at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry that received a report on the findings said “negative health effects” cannot be ruled out from the use of e-cigarettes.

The ministry is expected to study the feasibility of tightening regulations, officials said.

Powered by batteries, e-cigarettes vaporize liquids that have different flavors, such as vanilla and various fruits.

In the survey, five types of liquid solution were vaporized from each of the nine e-cigarettes purchased in Japan last year. Four devices produced roughly the same or higher concentrations of formaldehyde than detected in smoke from regular cigarettes.

The researchers believe formaldehyde was produced because the liquids become oxidized when heated, and the mechanism of each atomizer played a part in producing the different amounts.

The research group also examined the 103 liquid solutions available in Japan that were touted as nicotine-free and found nicotine in 48 of them. Although the majority of the liquids had barely measurable amounts in them, the substance is still banned in e-cigarettes by domestic law.

E-cigarettes caught the attention of Japanese smokers in 2010, when Japan raised the tax on cigarettes.

Some 6.6 percent of about 8,000 respondents in a survey between 15 and 69 said they had used e-cigarettes, according to the researchers.

The global market for e-cigarettes has also been expanding, with at least 46 vaporizers and 7,700 liquid solutions up for sale.

  • Robert Clarke

    shouldn’t you list the substances that produce formaldehyde?

    • JonathanBagley

      Best not. I suspect my new bedroom carpet is releasing a fair amount. I need to leave the window open for longer. I think new wooden furniture is a major culprit.

      • Actually you are producing formaldehyde yourself, every time you exhale. It’s a by-product of the metabolic process.

  • Glen Appleton

    Quote: [In the survey, five types of liquid solution were vaporized off each of the nine e-cigarettes purchased in Japan last year. Four devices produced roughly the same or higher concentrations of formaldehyde than detected in smoke from regular cigarettes.]

    In order to achieve these results, the products would have to be misused in a manner in which they were not designed. This is a well known condition called the “dry puff” or “dry hit”, which occurs when the liquid solution cannot feed to the coil fast enough, and the liquid and other materials begins to burn. When this happens, the taste is altered and the flavor is terrible, and the user quickly learns to avoid this condition.

    The most likely scenario with this “study” is that they employed a machine designed to be used with combustible cigarettes. This doesn’t account for the way that people actually use the product, therefore the results are meaningless.

    • Hanten

      From what you’re saying it seems that is easy for user to use the product and that would potentially result in great harm. So it’s an unsafe product.

      • Glen Appleton

        It’s easy for anyone to misuse any product, but the user wouldn’t continue to use the product in this case. It would be like someone burning toast. They would immediately know the toast was burnt and they would not eat it.

      • Blog Dog

        The Japanese government own one third of Japan Tobacco’s shares. JT is company that is losing millions of Yen as e-cigs become more popular, and the Japanese government is also losing millions in tobacco tax revenues. Can we trust Japanese government sponsored research into e-cigs? Does this make the Japanese government an unsafe product? Is it really about health, or is it about wealth? Questions, questions…..so many damn questions, so little time!

      • Hanten

        All cigarettes are unsafe products, e-cigs or not. The true cost of use of them has been counted in Japan as it has in many other countries. From a public health point of view, they would need to increase the tax to Y3-4,000 per pack to cover the costs.
        I wouldn’t let my kids use an e-cigarette. I wouldn’t let them smoke a regular one, either.

        The Japanese government research is backed up quite a few other studies. They’re not a healthy product.

      • Blog Dog


      • Blog Dog

        They are at least 95% safer than tobacco cigs. For long term smokers, that’s all they need to know…

      • Hanten

        And btw, losing millions of yen would hardly concern JT. As a percentage of their yearly profits it’s miniscule.

      • Blog Dog


      • Blog Dog

        Nobody likes losing money.

      • Water is potentially unsafe as well, should we ban that too? How about cellphones – the battery could explode. Cars are very unsafe so ban those too.

        Hell, getting up in the morning is potentially unsafe, we should all be banned from doing it.

      • Hanten

        Indeed, batteries that have a tendency to explode are banned in many countries. Polluted water is such a danger to human life that most NGOs in third world countries devote the bulk of their efforts in providing clean safe drinking water.
        I am still yet to hear a convincing argument that the world needs e-cigarettes. Regular cigarettes do way more harm than good and are banned from use in many situations and places around the world. E-cigarettes are being touted as a safe alternative to them but they haven’t lived up to their promise.

      • I’m talking clean water, drink too much and you can drown.

        Let me explain my point to you – as you clearly lack the capacity to understand it. ANYTHING used incorrectly is dangerous. You cant regulate people’s inability to follow common sense safety practises.

        But I guess common sense is not so common.

        And FYI, any Lithium Ion battery has the potential to blow up when charged incorrectly, or when people but cheap knock-offs.

        All of this is a moot point though, since the opposition to Ecigs has got nothing to do with public health – and everything to do with pharma profits, government “sin” tax – and job security for the Anti-smoking groups.

  • Hanten

    Who would’ve ever imagined that inhaling the vapor of an electronic cigarette could be good for you? It is shocking that a product delivering that much formaldehyde would be allowed onto the market.

    • Blog Dog

      If used properly, e-cigs don’t deliver any formaldehyde. Electric toasters, if used incorrectly can cause toast to produce much formaldehyde. Using your ‘logic’ should we ban toasters?

      • Hanten

        Have a look at the product history of all the things in your list and you’ll indeed see many attempts at putting legislation in place to have them banned. Cocaine, heroin and ecstasy are all banned because of how easily is to use them dangerously.

      • Blog Dog


    • Blog Dog

      If used properly, e-cigs don’t deliver any formaldehyde. Electric toasters, if used incorrectly can cause toast to produce much formaldehyde. Using your ‘logic’ should we ban toasters?

      • Hanten

        If a product is easily misused and then causes harm, I’d push for a ban. The manufacturers could always redesign their product to make it safer. It worked well for cars back in the days of no brakes.

      • By that argument – we should ban cars, cellphones, toasters, stoves – and a long list of other things because “they are easily misused”.

      • Hanten

        When I was university studying telecommunications engineering, our professors happily told us that they didn’t use cellphones. The dangers they pose to human health are massive but sadly only seen after thousands of hours of use. They have all tried to have them banned but until that happens, they’re employing to harm minimization; They won’t carry them, use them or have them in their homes. All phones had to be off before entering the lecture theaters.
        When cars were first produced, they had no brakes, seat belts or airbags and the manufacturers didn’t want to put them in despite all the research which showed that they would save lives. It wasn’t until the American and British governments threatened to ban them on all public roads that brakes were fitted in all cars. A similar turn of events saw seat belts and finally airbags introduced then eventually made mandatory.
        Time and again, leaving safety monitoring to manufacturers has been proved to be costly in human misery, lives and taxpayers’ money (Asbestos roof insulation, anyone? Regular cigarettes, perhaps?).
        E-cigarettes are a drug delivery system claiming to be safer than the regular ones but this claim is still unproven. As are your arguments.

      • gotsteam

        Since sucrose and nicotine can be purchased at any chemical supply store, I presume that candy is merely a cleverly packaged drug delivery system?

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/pmc/articles/PMC3630450/

    • gotsteam

      Che Guevara, really? To answer your trolling question, no one.

      By the way, do you straw man much? You’re not very good at it.

      • Hanten

        Far from trolling, I’m seriously challenging the safety of the product. I wouldn’t let any kids near e-cigarettes. The only fallacies to found here are in the producers so-called safety reports. Either it’s too early for these cancer machines to be on the market or they need to be banned outright.

      • gotsteam

        We agree on something, these are not for kids. What they are for is cigarette smokers as a far safer alternative to inhaling toxic tobacco smoke. If you disagree with that statement, then you don’t know what you are talking about. Formaldehyde is a farce and scare tactic in attempt to curb ecig use. Cigarettes make the Japanese government money. ECigs do not. Simple mathematics.
        Also, I personally see your avatar as offensive. Che Guevara was responsible for many, many innocent people being murdered. Not exactly a roll model unless you are a communist revolutionary.

      • Hanten

        I am sorry that you feel insulted by the avatar on my profile.

        The damage to the Japanese economy from the use of regular cigarettes is massive and is only partially compensated by the money the government collects from their share in Japan Tobacco and the tobacco tax. The scarily high rate of cancers caused by smoking are the reason why cancer is no longer covered by most health insurance schemes. Workers early deaths from smoking-related illnesses robs the economy of much need production and tax. Families lose fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and children. So, Japan would actually get a gross benefit from millions of smokers kicking the habit.

        Now, we have e-cigarettes being touted as a healthier alternative to all that misery but the reality emerging is far from the glossy brochures’ promises. The producers would have us believe that there are no risks to their product. Sadly, it’s not all good news.

        Ask an independent medical expert about cigarettes and they’ll tell you all about harm minimization strategies. So far, none of the effective ones include e-cigarettes.

      • gotsteam

        https://sciencecig.wordpress. com/supporters/ – 292 and counting.

        By removing combustion from the delivery of nicotine, the claim of healthier is automatic and irrefutable. This is simply a fact. You don’t need to ask a medical “expert” about that obvious strategy. There are a few listed above however. Breathing vapor is less harmful than breathing smoke.

        Suggestion, Read a little and make your own decisions. Allowing others to make them for you is, shall we say, lazy.

      • Hanten

        And yet there’s all this research that proves that e-cigarettes produce harmful levels of formaldehyde. In fact, ten times higher than the WHO safe maximum. I’ve already made my decision to not introduce a new drug into my system by saying no to e-cigarettes.
        E-cigarettes are not an aid to quitting nicotine as that would only earn the manufacturers one profit from you. They’re a drug delivery device. The e-cig makers don’t want you to believe it’s healthier so you’ll feel better smoking their vapors. I doubt they care that much about your health, anyway. They’re designed to get you buying as much product as you can for as many years as you can. So that they can turn a thousand profits from your addiction.

      • gotsteam

        Proven to be inaccurate data. Did you know if you cook a steak on the BBQ to charcoal, it is full of carcinogens? That’s what the formaldehyde study did. Google it. The research showing formaldehyde levels 15 times higher in an ecig over a CIGARETTE is a blatant lie.

        I removed a duplicate post.

      • Minxy Minamoto

        So you’re rejecting credible peer-reviewed research that shows e-cigarettes to be dangerous purely because it conflicts with your concept of logic? Not very scientific.
        You’re not a doctor. You’re not a scientist. I suspect you either own an e-cigarette company, work for one or are addicted to an e-cigarette product.

      • gotsteam

        Credible peer reviewed? mmkay. You do know what combustion is, right?

    • You do realize that humans produce formaldehyde as well? It’s in normal exhaled breath. By-product of metabolism.

      • Hanten

        At what rates? Do you know what the safe limits are for formaldehyde?

      • Read this: http://www.americanchemistry.com/ProductsTechnology/Formaldehyde/New-Graphic-Illustrates-Problems-with-EPAs-Formaldehyde-Risk-Assessment.pdf

        According the the EPA IRIS, human breath poses an unacceptable risk for Cancer. So better stop breathing Hanten, your going to give yourself cancer otherwise.

      • According the the EPA IRIS, human breath poses an unacceptable risk for Cancer. That should give you a fair impression on how realistic the whole formaldehyde scare is.

        I Quote

        “The formaldehyde that is naturally formed in our bodies is
        exhaled at concentrations of up to a few parts per billion.
        Yet 0.008 parts per billion is the inconsistent and overly
        conservative cancer risk value proposed by the EPA’s draft
        Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) risk assessment
        – meaning every human breath poses an unacceptable
        risk of cancer.”

        I’d post the link but then my comment gets censored, google the text to find the source (American Chemistry Council).

        Another (Reuters):

        “Formaldehyde is a colorless gas composed of carbon, hydrogen and
        oxygen. It is present in every cell of the human body and in the
        atmosphere. All living organisms rely on formaldehyde as a building
        block for the synthesis of more complex molecules. Because of its
        importance in such metabolic processes, formaldehyde is naturally
        present in the human body, with concentrations of approximately 2.5
        parts per million (ppm) in the blood.

        The fact that formaldehyde is a normal component of human
        metabolism has continually been ignored in congressional proceedings, press reports and even in communications by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other federal agencies. Because formaldehyde, like alcohol, has a tendency to evaporate from the bloodstream into exhaled breath, there are measurable amounts of formaldehyde in human breath at all times.”

  • My2Ctsandmore

    Everybody, even members of health mistery research groups, exhale formaldehyde all the time. And cute little babies do the same.
    Let us ban mankind. Too dangerous.

  • MaV4234

    “touted as nicotine-free and found nicotine in 48 of them. Although the
    majority of the liquids had barely measurable amounts in them,”

    So, are vegetables marketed as containing nicotine then? And not like “barely measurable amounts”… easily seen..
    hot peppers

    These evil veggies should fall under the same regulations and be considered tobacco products!

  • Hanten

    What was removed?

  • Hanten

    That’s hardly an independent source.

    • The simply list links to the studies on on site for convenience – no affiliation with the studies. Maybe read before commenting next time.

  • Hanten

    Just because you can’t agree with someone or find yourself unable to counter their arguments that hardly makes them a troll. Nobody is forcing you to read and comment on this article.

  • Blog Dog

    I was totally aware of this recent purchase by JT. That doesn’t doesn’t change my opinion of the overall situation.

    You should stop being so assumptive…

    • Minxy Minamoto


  • Ag please WHO is bought and paid for by Pharma. Their stance and statements on Ecigs have been criticized bay various experts, repeatedly.

    According the the EPA IRIS, human breath poses an unacceptable risk for Cancer due to formaldehyde. So better stop breathing Hanten, your going to give yourself cancer otherwise.

    But go ahead, believe what you will. Since you refuse to actually read the studies yourself and rely on news headlines and soundbites for your information, you’re a waste of my time.