Particle Size Distribution of E-Cigarette Aerosols and the Relationship to Cambridge Filter Pad Collection Efficiency

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The relatively volatile nature of the particulate matter fraction of e-cigarette aerosols presents an experimental challenge with regard to particle size distribution measure-ments. This is particularly true for instruments requiring a high degree of aerosol dilution. This was illustrated in a previous study, where average particle diameters in the 10-50 nm range were determined by a high-dilution, electrical mobility method. Total particulate matter (TPM) masses calculated based on those diameters were orders of magnitude smaller than gravimetrically determined TPM. This discrepancy was believed to result from almost complete particle evaporation at the dilution levels of the electrical mobility analysis. The same study described a spectral transmission measurement of e-cigarette particle size in an undiluted state, and reported particles from 210-380 nm count median diameter. Observed particle number concentrations were in the 109 particles/cm3 range. Additional particle size measurements described here also found e-cigarette particle size to be in the 260-320 nm count median diameter range. Cambridge filter pads have been used for decades to determine TPM yields of tobacco burning cigarettes, and collection of e-cigarette TPM by fibrous filters is predicted to be a highly efficient process over a wide range of filtration flow rates. The results presented in this work provide support for this hypothesis.

Described here is a study in which e-cigarette aerosols were collected on Cambridge filters with adsorbent traps placed downstream in an effort to capture any material passing through the filter. Amounts of glycerin, propylene glycol, nicotine, and water were quantified on the filter and downstream trap. Glycerin, propylene glycol, and nicotine were effciently captured (> 98%) by the upstream Cambridge filter, and a correlation was observed between filtration efficiency and the partial vapor pressure of each component. The present analysis was largely inconclusive with regard to filter efficiency and particle-vapor partitioning of water. [Beitr. Tabakforsch. Int. 26 (2014) 183-190]

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