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Nicotine Tob Res. 2019 Aug 19;21(9):1274-1278. doi: 10.1093/ntr/nty221.

Free Radical, Carbonyl, and Nicotine Levels Produced by Juul Electronic Cigarettes.

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Department of Public Health Sciences, Pennsylvania State University Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS), Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA.
Department of Food Science, Pennsylvania State University, College of Agricultural Sciences, University Park, PA.



Free radicals and carbonyls produced by electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) have the potential to inflict oxidative stress. Recently, Juul e-cigs have risen drastically in popularity; however, there is no data on nicotine and oxidant yields from this new e-cig design.


Aerosol generated from four different Juul flavors was analyzed for carbonyls, nicotine, and free radicals. The e-liquids were analyzed for propylene glycol (PG) and glycerol (GLY) concentrations. To determine the effects of e-liquid on oxidant production, Juul pods were refilled with nicotine-free 30:70 or 60:40 PG:GLY with or without citral.


No significant differences were found in nicotine (164 ± 41 µg/puff), free radical (5.85 ± 1.20 pmol/puff), formaldehyde (0.20 ± 0.10 µg/puff), and acetone (0.20 ± 0.05 µg/puff) levels between flavors. The PG:GLY ratio in e-liquids was ~30:70 across all flavors with GLY being slightly higher in tobacco and mint flavors. In general, when Juul e-liquids were replaced with nicotine-free 60:40 PG:GLY, oxidant production increased up to 190% and, with addition of citral, increased even further.


Juul devices produce free radicals and carbonyls, albeit, at levels substantially lower than those observed in other e-cig products, an effect only partially because of a low PG:GLY ratio. Nicotine delivery by these devices was as high as or higher than the levels previously reported from cigarettes.


These findings suggest that oxidative stress and/or damage resulting from Juul use may be lower than that from cigarettes or other e-cig devices; however, the high nicotine levels are suggestive of a greater addiction potential.


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