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January 2, 2024

The Truth About Secondhand Vape: Can You Really Get Exposed to Harmful Chemicals?

With e-cigarettes and vaping becoming increasingly popular, concerns about their potential health risks have also been on the rise. We've all heard the rumors swirling around - that inhaling secondhand vapor can be just as harmful as smoking traditional cigarettes. But is this really true?

Today, we're diving deep into the world of secondhand vape to uncover the truth behind those cloudy myths and shed light on whether or not you should be worried about being exposed to harmful chemicals.


Secondhand Vape

Just like traditional cigarette smoke, secondhand vaping is the inhalation of vapor from electronic cigarettes or other vaping devices by non-users. This means that even if you are not personally using an e-cigarette, you can still be exposed to the chemicals and substances present in the exhaled vapor.

But what exactly is secondhand vaping, and how does it differ from traditional secondhand smoke? Is it really harmful, as some studies suggest?

What is Secondhand Vape?

Secondhand vape refers to the unintentional inhalation of vapor emitted by someone who is actively vaping. Unlike traditional cigarettes, which produce smoke through combustion, e-cigarettes work by heating a liquid solution (e-liquid) containing nicotine, flavorings, and other additives. When this liquid is heated, it turns into an aerosol that the user then inhales.

This aerosol contains various chemicals such as propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavorings, and potentially nicotine. When exhaled by a vaper, these chemicals become part of the secondhand vapor that those around them can inhale.

How Does It Differ From Traditional Secondhand Smoke?

One key difference between secondhand vape and traditional secondhand smoke is that while conventional cigarette smoke contains thousands of chemicals, secondhand vape is only known to contain a few. This is because the primary source of harm in tobacco smoke comes from the burning and combustion process, whereas e-cigarettes do not involve burning.

However, this does not mean that secondhand vaping is entirely harmless. Studies have shown that the vapor from e-cigarettes can contain nicotine, ultrafine particles, and other potentially harmful substances. Furthermore, the long-term effects of exposure to these substances are still largely unknown.


Secondhand vaping is the unintentional inhalation of vapor from electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices by non-users. While it may contain fewer harmful chemicals compared to traditional secondhand smoke, it is not entirely safe and can still pose potential health risks.


Difference Between Firsthand and Secondhand Vape

Firsthand vape refers to the act of inhaling vapor directly from an electronic cigarette or other vaping device. This type of exposure occurs when a person chooses to use a vaping device themselves, either for recreational purposes or as a smoking cessation aid. The user inhales the vapor into their lungs, where it enters their bloodstream and can potentially affect their overall health.

Secondhand vape refers to the unintentional exposure to vapor by those who are in close proximity to someone using a vaping device. This could occur in public places such as restaurants, bars, or even on public transportation where there may be individuals using e-cigarettes nearby. Secondhand vape can also happen in more private settings such as homes or cars where someone may be using a vaping device around others.

The main difference between firsthand and secondhand vape lies in how much control one has over one's exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. When actively choosing to use an electronic cigarette or similar device, the individual is able to regulate how much and how often they are exposed. They also can choose what type of e-liquid they are inhaling, which can impact their level of exposure to chemicals.

In contrast, those who are exposed to secondhand vape have little control over their exposure. They may not be aware that they are being told or have any say in the type of e-liquid being used by the person vaping. This lack of control can lead to concerns about potential health risks associated with secondhand vape.

Studies on the potential health effects of secondhand vape still need to be expanded and conclusive. However, some research has suggested that exposure to certain chemicals found in e-cigarette vapor could have negative impacts on respiratory and cardiovascular health. More research is needed to understand the potential risks associated with secondhand vape entirely.

Risks and Health Concerns of Secondhand Vape

Despite the widespread use and promotion of vaping, there are still concerns about its potential health risks - not just for those who engage in it directly but also for those who are exposed to secondhand vape. While secondhand vaping may not seem as harmful as directly inhaling the vapor yourself, studies have shown that it can pose several risks and health concerns.

1. Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

The primary concern with secondhand vape is the exposure to potentially harmful chemicals found in e-cigarette aerosols. These chemicals include nicotine, propylene glycol, formaldehyde, acrolein, and diacetyl, which may be linked to severe health issues.

2. Potential Health Effects on Children

Children are especially vulnerable to secondhand vape due to their developing bodies and immune systems. Exposure to harmful chemicals found in e-cigarette aerosols could have severe effects on their health, including:

Increased risk of asthma attacks: Children with asthma or other respiratory conditions may experience exacerbations if exposed to secondhand vape.

Impaired brain development: Nicotine exposure during childhood can affect brain development and lead to long-term cognitive problems.

Respiratory infections: Children exposed to secondhand vape may be more prone to respiratory diseases such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

3. Unknown Long-Term Effects

Vaping is a relatively new phenomenon, and there is still much we don’t know about its long-term effects. This includes the potential risks of long-term exposure to secondhand vape. It could take years or even decades before we fully understand the health implications of this practice.

4. Re-normalization of Smoking

The rise in popularity of vaping has led some experts to worry that it could re-normalize smoking behavior, especially among young people who may view it as a “safer” alternative. This could potentially lead to an increase in smoking rates and undo years of progress in reducing tobacco use.

5. Unknown Impact on Pregnant Women

Pregnant women exposed to secondhand vape may also be at risk for adverse health effects. Nicotine exposure during pregnancy has been linked to problems with fetal development, including low birth weight and preterm delivery. More research is needed to fully understand the impact of secondhand vape on pregnant women and their unborn babies.

Overall, while more research is needed, it is clear that secondhand vaping can pose several health concerns and risks for both pregnant women and children. Until further evidence suggests otherwise, it is essential to limit exposure to e-cigarette aerosols and avoid vaping in public spaces.

Ways to Minimize Exposure to Secondhand Vape

As the popularity of vaping continues to grow, so does concern over its potential impact on non-users. While some may argue that secondhand vaping is harmless, it's essential to understand that the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes contains a variety of chemicals and toxins that can be harmful when inhaled. To protect yourself and those around you, here are some ways to minimize exposure to secondhand vape.

1. Avoid enclosed spaces where vaping is allowed.

The most effective way to reduce your exposure to secondhand vape is by avoiding areas where people are actively vaping. This includes bars, restaurants, and other indoor public spaces where smoking or vaping may be permitted.

2. Choose outdoor seating options.

When dining out or attending events where vaping may occur, opt for outdoor seating whenever possible. This will significantly reduce your exposure as the aerosol dissipates quickly in open spaces.

3. Educate friends and family about your preferences.

If you have friends or family members who vape, kindly ask them not to do so around you or in your home if you're uncomfortable with it. Respectfully explaining your concerns can often lead to a compromise that works for everyone.


4. Use designated smoking areas.

Many establishments have designated smoking areas for traditional cigarettes and tobacco products, but these same rules often don't apply to e-cigarettes and vapes. However, if there's no other option available, try standing upwind from these designated areas to minimize your exposure.

5. Be aware of your surroundings.

When out in public places where vaping may occur, pay attention to your surroundings and try to avoid standing or sitting close to someone who is actively vaping.

6. Install air purifiers.

If you work in an office or live in a shared space where people vape, consider investing in an air purifier with a HEPA filter. These devices can help remove harmful chemicals from the air and improve overall air quality.

By being conscious of your environment and taking steps to minimize your exposure, you can protect yourself and those around you from the potential risks of secondhand vape. Additionally, if you're a vaper yourself, be respectful of others' preferences and make sure to use your device responsibly in public spaces. 


It is crucial to take necessary precautions for your health when it comes to secondhand vape exposure. While some studies have shown that the levels of harmful chemicals in secondhand vape are significantly lower than those found in traditional cigarette smoke, there is still cause for concern.

If you are a vaper yourself, it is vital to ask for consent before vaping in public spaces and try to be considerate of those who may not want to be exposed to the vapor. Furthermore, investing in high-quality vaping products from reputable brands (like LOST MARY) can also help minimize potential risks. Cheaper or knock-off products may contain lower-quality ingredients that could release more harmful chemicals into the air.

While more research is needed on the long-term effects of secondhand vape exposure, it is essential to err on the side of caution and take necessary precautions to protect yourself and those around you. By being informed and responsible, we can all do our part in minimizing potential risks associated with secondhand vape.