Scientific stupidity. When it comes to vaping industry news, it seems as if we’ve become surrounded by inept academics who don’t know a test tube from a bunsen burner. “Report the facts or stay quiet” is my personal follow-on from a report this week from Dr. Farsalinos, as he laid into the latest bunch of pseudo-scientific poppy-cock to come out of China.
Don’t get me wrong here, the blame for this does not lie solely with bad science. It also falls squarely onto the shoulders of “journalists” who read a headline and write a whole story on it, caring more about the number of hits a story gets than the actual substance. Maybe if the press weren’t so hungry for sensationalist news, the guys in the lab would go back to searching out the truth, not trying to figure out what is going to get them their next grant cheque and papers published.
The Story Behind The Story
I will not get into the specifics of the original release, as for all intents and purposes there are no results to speak about. I will let Dr.Farsalinos explain it himself in this article, as he does a much better job than I could possibly hope to do, but I however will give you the condensed version.
A study stating that vapor is 1,000,000 times more harmful than outdoor air – containing cancer causing agents and flame retardants – as the Hong Kong Health Council calls for the country to follow 16 others and completely ban the sale and use of electronic cigarettes. The Baptist University also claimed that the flame retardants were known to cause sterility in men, added in for good measure in case people were not already scared enough.
Without publishing any details and without reporting anything on the methodology and the samples tested, scientists from the Baptist University in Hong Kong said they tested 13 types of e-cigarettes available in the local market and found polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) at levels of 2.9 to 504.5 ng per mL (ng/mL). Trying to compare this to outdoor air levels, Dr. Chung Shan-shan, assistant professor in the university’s biology department said: “ [Level of PAHs] in e-cigarettes is, at least, one million times more than roadside air in Hong Kong”…
First of all, the definition of PAHs is: “a class of environmental pollutants created primarily from incomplete combustion of various organic materials including tobacco”. We all know that there is no complete or incomplete combustion of any material in e-cigarettes, so I really doubt whether their findings are valid. Of course, there is no study published, no methodology or any other detail mentioned; this is just a media story. Beyond that, I made a quick search online to find the levels of PAHs in outdoor air in Hong Kong (sorry, I have better things to do and I cannot waste more of my time for this report). I found a paper from 1998, finding levels of PAHs up to 48 ng/m3 (cubic meter = 1,000,000 (million) mL) in Hong Kong. So, the levels in outdoor air are 48 ng per 1,000,000 mL. Obviously, the scientist quoted in the media story compared mLs of air with mLs of e-liquid.
This is not misinformation, not misinterpretation and not a mathematical mistake. It is simply and outrageously ridiculous…
Hong Kong is desperate to make vaping disappear, as smoking is one of its largest cash cows. These people will stop at nothing until they have achieved their goals. Vapers everywhere should be afraid of this kind of misinformation making its way onto the world stage.
Who Cares, It’s China
Unfortunately for us, we live in a global market, filled with global information and resources. Dr. Farsalinos put this article to bed within a few minutes, but the general public will never see his rebuttal. It’s not that what he says is wrong, it’s that the news corporations won’t get their click bait from his article: Where is the juice in saying nothing is going to happen, compared to millions of times more likely to cause cancer and make your junk quit working.
Scientists need to go back to being scientists. Going into an experiment with no expectations, no preconceived notions, and just see where the evidence takes them. The scientific community is doing nothing in these cases other than making themselves a laughing-stock and removing any credibility they may have had. We, as the general public, are supposed to be able to trust their findings, yet we can poke holes in their stories without any need for effort. If they’re spending all their time trying to create the next big news story, who is actually out there looking out for the best interests of you and I?
As always, enjoy your vaporizer and vape safe!