What was not reported in the study was that the device used to vaporize the liquid was used incorrectly, and the aerosols produced we’re not true formaldehyde. When you consider that this was a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine and written by scientists, it is rather unfortunate that the whole truth was not reported and facts were omitted. It was a classic case of misreporting in favor of a biased viewpoint, creating great media sensationalism.
After the study was published, Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, who is one of the international leaders of electronic cigarette research, published a counter piece analyzing the NEJM report, dissecting the research and comparing it to how a vaporizer and e-liquid would actually be used, and what the user would be more likely to encounter.
What he found was that the vaporizer used in the study, (which was an unnamed brand and model) was used at several different settings. When used at normal settings, the device produced no formaldehyde hemiacetyls during vaporization. For example, the voltage was at 3.3, creating 6-7 watts, with a puff time of 4 seconds.
When the settings were turned up to their highest, 5 volts and 14-16 watts, at 4 seconds, the device vaporized the solution and produced 15 times more formaldehyde (hemiacetals) than traditional cigarettes. However at such a high voltage and wattage, the atomizer would absolutely be overheating and absolutely capable of producing formaldehyde hemiacetyl compounds.
It must be noted that formaldehyde hemiacetyls are not true formaldehyde; they are a combination of formaldehyde and alcohols, and there is no evidence to prove they have the same effect, or any toxic or carcinogenic properties.
To vapers, those who use vaporizer devices, the highest settings would never really be used because consuming liquids vaporized at such a high degree would taste entirely awful! In fact, there is a commonly known term for this and it’s called the dry puff phenomenon. Therefore, under the premises documented in this study, it is unlikely the majority of e-cigarette users are going to experience or encounter these elevated levels of formaldehyde. Similarly to the way most people would not be inclined to consume severely overcooked meat, (which contains carcinogens) most vapers would have no interest in vaping with overheated atomizers.
So, if you vape and were alarmed by these headlines, examine at your particular usage. If you use a variable voltage device, check your habits. If you find yourself dry puffing or using it at the highest available setting, you may have to readjust your habits. Otherwise, vape on and try to take such misreporting with a grain of salt!