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Electronic cigarette chemicals transfer from a vape shop to a nearby business in a multiple-tenant retail building.

  • Author(s): Khachatoorian, Careen;
  • Jacob Iii, Peyton;
  • Benowitz, Neal L;
  • Talbot, Prue
  • et al.


Electronic cigarettes (ECs) are nicotine delivery devices that produce aerosol without combustion of tobacco; therefore, they do not produce sidestream smoke. Nevertheless, many users exhale large clouds of aerosol that can result in passive exposure of non-users. Analogous to thirdhand cigarette smoke, the exhaled aerosol also settles on indoor surfaces where it can produce a residue. We refer to this residue as EC exhaled aerosol residue (ECEAR). Our objective was to determine if exhaled EC aerosol transferred from a vape shop in a multiple-tenant retail building, where it was produced, to a nearby business (field site) where it could deposit as ECEAR.


We examined the build-up of ECEAR in commonly used materials (cotton towel and paper towels) placed inside the field site across from the vape shop. Materials were subjected to short-term (days) and long-term (months) exposures. Nicotine, other alkaloids and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) were identified and quantified in controls and field site samples using analytical chemical techniques.


Nicotine and other alkaloids were detected after 1 day of exposure in the field site, and these chemicals generally increased as exposure times increased. TSNAs, which have been linked to carcinogenesis, were also detected in short-term and long-term exposed samples from the field site.


In a multiple-tenant retail building, chemicals in EC aerosol travelled from a vape shop into an adjacent business where they deposited forming ECEAR. Regulatory agencies and tenants occupying such buildings should be aware of this potential environmental hazard.

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