Generation of Electronic Cigarette Aerosol by a Third-Generation Machine-Vaping Device: Application to Toxicological Studies

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Electronic-cigarette (e-cig) devices use heat to produce an inhalable aerosol from a liquid (e-liquid) composed mainly of humectants, nicotine, and flavoring chemicals. The aerosol produced includes fine and ultrafine particles, and potentially nicotine and aldehydes, which can be harmful to human health. E-cig users inhale these aerosols and, with the third-generation of e-cig devices, control design features (resistance and voltage) in addition to the choice of e-liquids, and the puffing profile. These are key factors that can significantly impact the toxicity of the inhaled aerosols. E-cig research, however, is challenging and complex mostly due to the absence of standardized assessments and to the numerous varieties of e-cig models and brands, as well as e-liquid flavors and solvents that are available on the market. These considerations highlight the urgent need to harmonize e-cig research protocols, starting with e-cig aerosol generation and characterization techniques. The current study focuses on this challenge by describing a detailed step-by-step e-cig aerosol generation technique with specific experimental parameters that are thought to be realistic and representative of real-life exposure scenarios. The methodology is divided into four sections: preparation, exposure, post-exposure analysis, plus cleaning and maintenance of the device. Representative results from using two types of e-liquid and various voltages are presented in terms of mass concentration, particle size distribution, chemical composition and cotinine levels in mice. These data demonstrate the versatility of the e-cig exposure system used, aside from its value for toxicological studies, as it allows for a broad range of computer-controlled exposure scenarios, including automated representative vaping topography profiles.

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Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE

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