Scary scary formaldehyde

posted by Carl V Phillips with analysis from Elaine Keller and input from CASAA board

We finish up our debunking of Ellen Hahn’s project “Lie to College Students” with her claim,

In the cartridge:  Formaldehyde.  Highly toxic to all animals, including you.  Good for embalming dead bodies.  Causes cancer.

This is obviously another example of the same word games that were analyzed in previous posts, so we will not repeat those points.

The interesting thing about this point is that the chemistry studies of e-cigarettes do find that of all the contaminants, formaldehyde might be the one that is most worth trying to reduce.  Unlike the other chemicals that Hahn mentions, which are at tiny fractions of 1% of what is considered the hazardous level, formaldehyde might be in the neighborhood of 1% of what is considered hazardous level.  Of course, this “merely” 100-fold margin is hardly a cause for worry, and the quantity is similar to the exposure we get from other sources.  (There is also speculation that some of the formaldehyde measured in lab studies is from the vaper, not the vapor — the human body emits a measurable amount of this horrible scary toxic chemical.)  It is certainly a lie to say that this contamination causes cancer, as Hahn claims.

But among all of the trivial contaminants, this trivial contaminant might be worth a bit of engineering effort.  I do not know enough about the chemical engineering to know how practical or easy reducing it would be.  An honest scientist or public health advocate might say “this is unlikely to cause health problems, but it theoretically could be causing a tiny bit of needless risk, so maybe something can be done here to make these low-risk products even lower risk.”

But this is like saying, “seat belts seem to produce a bit more bruising near the clavicle compared to elsewhere when they prevent someone from getting killed in a major crash, so we might want to focus some effort to improve that part of the seat belt.”   You would have to very stupid and/or very dishonest to reason, “A bit of bruising near the clavicle?!!! OMG! Bruises can be fatal! Don’t use seat belts!”


A short post today, but we will make up for it tomorrow, when we publish 26 pages about Hahn’s lies.  Stay tuned.

One response to “Scary scary formaldehyde

  1. Pingback: The passive vaping fable | Anti-THR Lie of the Day

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