The Effects of Secondhand Vape Exposure on Children

After people smoke or vape, toxic chemicals settle on surfaces, including windows, walls and floors. The residue can stay around for minutes or months, and it can cause health problems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report showing that about one-third of middle and high school students in the United States breathed in secondhand vaping aerosols in 2018. This 30% increase over the previous three years could indicate an emerging public health threat.

Signs and Symptoms

Children can be particularly susceptible to the health effects of secondhand vape exposure, especially if they have lung problems or asthma. They are also more likely to be around other people who use vaping products and are exposed to the toxic substances they contain, including nicotine.

Kids exposed to smoke or vapor can be at risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses like bronchitis, pneumonia, coughing, asthma and breathing problems. Exposure to vapor can also cause a range of behavioral and mental health issues in kids, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The dangers of being around someone smoking or vaping are more significant than many people realize. A recent study in the journal pediatrics found that nicotine from e-cigarette aerosol can harm a child’s nervous, respiratory, immune and cardiovascular systems. Parents need to keep their children away from those who vape.

One study in 2021 found that kids exposed to e-cigarette vapor had higher lung infections and lower immune function than their peers without a history of using vaping products. That’s because e-cigarette aerosol contains various ingredients, including acrolein, benzene and diacetyl, which can irritate the lungs.

These symptoms are similar to the symptoms of bronchitis and pneumonia, but they don’t respond to antibiotics. If your child has any of these symptoms, they should see their doctor or go to an emergency room immediately.

Health Issues

Vaping isn’t smoking but has health problems, including a higher risk for certain diseases in children. When you smoke or vape, toxins in the air get into your bloodstream and cause damage to your lungs, heart and other parts of your body.

The toxic chemicals can also build up on your skin, hair, and breath. They can be absorbed into your lungs, leading to lung cancer, heart disease, and other health problems.

Kids who live in homes where people smoke, or vape are at risk for developing these health problems, too. Secondhand smoke is hazardous for babies and young children. They are at a much higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ear infections, colds, coughs, and asthma.

When you vape, the water vapor is mixed with nicotine and other chemicals that can make people sick. These include tars, carcinogens, and other harmful substances.

In addition, some e-cigarette fluids contain flavorings that can trigger allergic reactions in kids, who are more likely to have allergies than adults. Some flavors are made with nuts, which can cause allergies in some children.

In the future, researchers will need to learn more about how e-cigarette aerosols can impact people’s health. Like secondhand smoke, secondhand e-cigarette emissions are a serious public health issue that must be addressed.

Behavior Changes

Many chemicals in e-cigarettes, such as nicotine, harm children’s brains and can change memory, concentration, mood, learning ability, self-control and attention span. They also raise nicotine levels in the bloodstream to rates similar to those found with secondhand smoke.

Tobacco is a significant cause of death among young people, and alternative nicotine delivery systems (such as electronic cigarettes and hookahs) have increased significantly in recent years. However, little research has been done on the effects of secondhand vaping exposure in children.

This study will measure lung health outcomes and air quality for those exposed to smoke and aerosols from hookahs and e-cigarettes. A sample of adults and children who smoke and the vape will participate, as well as non-smoking/non-vaping households.

Individuals will be recruited by household so that each home will include one smoking or vaping adult and one non-smoking/non-vaping adult and child. The child will be asked to stay in a separate room with the adult who smokes or vapes for 50 minutes without restricting their movement.

Tobacco smoke and aerosols can cause respiratory problems, including asthma flare-ups, eye and throat irritation, and shortness of breath. These symptoms can worsen if the person does not quit smoking. We will also measure all participants’ heart rate variability (HRV) and spirometry to examine heart rate and lung function changes after smoking or vaping.

Parental Concerns

E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular among adults and teens. But experts say they aren’t safe for children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that exposure to nicotine vapors from e-cigarettes can harm kids and recommends that parents avoid vaping around their children. That’s because children are more susceptible to nicotine’s adverse effects.

But some parents may think that e-cigarette aerosols aren’t as dangerous as traditional cigarettes and aren’t taking steps to protect their kids from the toxic substance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 40 percent of adults in the United States believe that exposure to e-cigarette aerosols causes only some or slight harm.

However, this misperception is risking the health of people who inhale e-cigarette aerosols and could contribute to a rise in childhood asthma.

A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that 49% of adults with children admitted to using e-cigarettes at home, and 5.6% of those parents also had asthma-prone children.

The CDC says that the most important thing for parents to do is keep their homes and cars smoke-free and ensure their children stay away from e-cigarettes. If you cannot do that, ask a friend or relative not to smoke near your children.