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Effect of voltage on electronic cigarette aerosol deposition

Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Investigator(s): Gideon St. Helen, Ph.D
Award Cycle: 2016 (Cycle 25) Grant #: 25IR-0028 Award: $372,621
Subject Area: Environmental Exposure/Toxicology
Award Type: High Impact Research Project Award

Initial Award Abstract
Although awareness and use of electronic cigarettes (EC) have increased exponentially since their introduction into the U.S. market, important questions about their toxicity and environmental impact are unanswered. One unanswered question, "Where in the body are EC aerosols deposited in humans?", which was posed by the Food and Drug Administration, has implications for both EC toxicology and environmental impact. We also do not know the effect of EC design features such as voltage setting on EC aerosol deposition in the airways. To fill these data gaps, we are proposing to conduct a study in which we will use positron emission tomography (PET), a nuclear imaging technique, to visualize EC aerosol deposition in the human airways when used at low and high EC voltages. We will also assess the effect of EC voltage on the amount of nicotine that is retained in the body after a puff and the amount exhaled in the environment, as well as the relationship between the sites of EC aerosol deposition and plasma nicotine concentrations. The proposed project is particularly timely as state and federal regulations of ECs are being considered. It is important that regulations are based on sound scientific data. The proposed study is novel and answers important questions on EC aerosol deposition in human airways as well as the influence of an EC design feature, namely voltage, on aerosol deposition, systemic nicotine retention, and expulsion of nicotine into the environment. The proposal is responsive to TRDRP's Environmental Exposure and Toxicology research priorities.