Determination of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in replacement liquids of electronic cigarettes by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry by Hyun-Ji Kim and Ho-Sang Shin.

Nitrosamines :

  • Nitrosamines are used in the manufacture of some cosmetics, pesticides, and in most rubber products.
  • Nitrosamines were proved to cause cancer in rats by British scientists.
  • Nitrosamines are termed carcinogenic, meaning they cause cancer.
  • High temperatures, such in frying, can cause the formation of nitrosamines in food
  • Significant levels of nitrosamines can be found in many foodstuffs, especially beer, fish, and fish by-products, and also in meat and cheese.
  • Nitrosamines are in tobacco smoke, American dip snuff and chewing tobacco
  • Nitrosamines tend to be a liquid, yellow-orange in colour

Liquid Chromatography

  • Liquid Chromatography is a way of splitting a liquid into the different bits that make it up

Mass spectrometry

  • Mass spectrometry identifies what those different bits are by turning them into a vapour, giving them a charge and seeing how heavy each bit in the liquid is.
  • Heavier bits are harder to move using a magnet. Lighter bits are easier.
  • How they show up on a screen tells the scientist what it is.

Using chromatography and spectrometry informed the scientists what was in an e Liquid.

Kim and Shin used this method to see if tobacco-related nitrosamines were in 105 different eLiquids from 11 Korean companies.

They looked for four different types of nitrosamines: NNN, NNK, NNB and NAT

They found:

  • NNN in 64.8% of samples
  • NNK in 88.6% of samples
  • NNB in 54.3% of samples
  • NAT in 75.2% of samples


This research is referred to by people campaigning for legislation to be placed on e cigarettes as proof that there are dangers of cancer-causing chemicals to be present.

The Repudiation

New study confirms that e-cigarettes have minimal quantities of nitrosamines but authors do not report it as a conclusion.

Dr Farsalinos e cig researchDr Farsalinos is a researcher at Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens-Greece and at Medical Imaging Research Center, University Hospital Gathuisberg in Leuven-Belgium. He is actively involved in research on e-cigarettes’ safety and risk profile.

He is a scientist who has carried out a great deal of research into eCigarettes and is an outspoken critic of poor science or bad conclusions reached from good science in relation to eCigarettes.

Dr. Farsalinos said that the research by Kim & Chin was carried out well but they failed to make some important points.

They failed to point out that the levels of nitrosamines they found were only trace amounts, meaning the quantities discovered were very small.

He pointed out that they failed to point out what levels are found in cigarettes.

He showed that an electronic cigarette contains equal or less nitrosamines than found in nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) like nicotine chewing gum.

He stated that the levels found in NRT treatments were considered by the medical profession to be so low that they posed no harm to users, therefore neither would e cigs.

The high temperature they subjected the liquids to would be the most likely cause of nitrosamines being made and that this temperature is never reached during use of an e cigarette.

Dr Farsalinos concludes that the levels of nitrosamines in e-Liquid are almost insignificant and 76-142 times less than those found in one cigarette. He also points out that eating grilled food produces more nitrosamines found in e Liquids.

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