Variations in coil temperature/power and e-liquid constituents change size and lung deposition of particles emitted by an electronic cigarette.
Electronic cigarette uses propylene glycol and glycerol to deliver nicotine and flavors to the lungs. Given the hundreds of different brands, the thousands of flavors available and the variations in nicotine concentrations, it is likely that electronic cigarette settings and e-liquid composition affect the size distribution of particles emitted and ultimately pulmonary deposition. We used the inExpose e-cigarette extension to study two separate modes of operation of electronic cigarettes, namely power-controlled and the temperature-controlled. We also assessed several e-liquids based on propylene glycol and glycerol concentrations, nicotine content, and selected monomolecular flavoring agents (menthol, vanillin, and maltol). Particle size distribution was measured using a Condensation Particle Counter and a Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer spectrometer. Lung deposition was predicted using the International Commission on Radiological Protection model. For all resistance coils, increase in power delivery generated larger particles while maintaining a higher coil temperature generated smaller particles. Increase in glycerol concentration led to the generation of larger particles. With regard to flavors, we showed that despite minor effect of menthol and maltol, vanillin dramatically increased particle size. Presence of nicotine also increased particle size. Finally, particles emitted by the electronic cigarette were predicted to mainly deposit in the alveoli and conditions generating larger particle sizes led to a reduction in predicted lung deposition. This study shows that coil temperature, propylene glycol and glycerol concentrations, presence of nicotine, and flavors affect the size of particles emitted by an electronic cigarette, directly affecting predicted lung deposition of these particles.