Erin Friedman, Ph.D.
David Hobart, Ph.D.
Siice Blain PhD.
After their initial market introduction in 2003, the popularity and use of e-cigarettes have exponentially increased. There are three main components that have contributed to this: marketing, ease of access, and emerging flavors. The marketing industry uses claims that ecigarettes are a ‘safer’ and ‘healthier’ alternative to cigarettes as a way to entice previous smokers into using this product. With the increase in popularity, there is also an increase in demand, which has led to the creation of stores designed to target customers and sell e-cigarettes and similar products at convenient locations. Finally, the emerging flavors have enticed many nonsmokers to start with e-cigarettes, as they are fun to try and taste good, without the aftertaste of traditional cigarettes. However, e-liquids contain flavor compounds that pose health risks to humans. These compounds, especially when smoked, produce toxic aldehydes and volatile organic compounds that impact the respiratory system as well as other systems within the body. As the use of e-cigarettes has increased, so has the waste produced. As of 2018, approximately 58,000,000 e-cigarettes and vapes were sold within the United States; 19.7 million of which were single-use. These are often thrown away or littered, posing a threat to the environment with various plastics, circuiting, and residues of the various e-liquids within these devices. Some of the e-liquid waste and pollution, especially from unused e-cigarettes, is toxic enough to be considered hazardous waste. The aim of this study is to observe the effects of eliquid interaction with the model plant species and weed Arabidopsis thaliana and observe the phenotypic stress response that is produced. Eight of the most popular Elf Bar e-cigarettes were chosen, as they are the most popular flavored e-cigarette currently on the market. Qualitative analysis of samples was performed using FTIR, H' NMR, and GC/MS in order to obtain the general chemical composition of the different e-liquids. Once complete, dilutions and neat eliquids were introduced to A. thaliana plants grown in soil as well as on plant agar. It was found that the dilutions used (0.5%, 0.75%, and 1.0%) were too low to induce any type of stress response when systematically introduced to the mature plants in soil and the seedling in plant agar. The only phenotypic change observed with the dilutions occurred with a single-leaf treatment of a 1% dilution, where the leaf became bleached and withered while the rest of the plant flourished. With neat e-liquid introduction to seedlings in plant agar, bleaching, and death occurred within 24 hours of the treatment, indicating that e-liquids are toxic to plants and have the potential to negatively impact the environment with continued littering and improper waste disposal.
Neuwirth, Genevieve, "Qualitative Chemical Analysis of Elf Bar E-Liquids and their Effect on Phenotypic
Characteristics of Arabidopsis Thaliana" (2023). Undergraduate Theses and Capstone Projects. 274.