Low-Cost E-Cig Aerosol Exposure System

Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, e-hookahs, or vape pens, are battery-operated devices used to inhale aerosols that usually contain nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. With the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes, more individuals have begun to adopt and use these devices, including a disproportionate and alarming number of youths. However, due to the novelty of these devices, the short and long-term health implications have yet to be fully understood. This study aims to create a low-cost exposure chamber for use in animal experimental studies to gain a better understanding of the health effects of e-cigarettes.

The exposure chamber system was built with standard laboratory equipment and an open-source electronics platform for e-cigarette activation. The open-source electronics platform (Arduino) was used to control a solenoid, which is a cylindrical coil of wire acting as a magnet when carrying electric current, that pushed the activation button of the e-cigarettes. A pump was then used to move the aerosol from the mouthpiece of the e-cigarette into the chamber for the whole-body exposure of rodents to the e-cigarette aerosol. Aerosol concentrations were measured with a light-scattering laser photometer.

In addition, the system allowed for varying the air exchange rate, monitoring aerosol levels, and programming arbitrary puff topography. Aerosol concentrations observed for different chamber operating conditions, such as puff time and period, e-cigarette power output, and air exchange rate, were consistent with the mathematical model the team developed.

Overall, the low-cost exposure chamber will allow scientists to gain a better understanding of the health-effects of e-cigarettes via animal experimental studies. In addition, the mathematical model the team developed will allow for estimating design parameters like chamber volume, air exchange rate, and puff period. 

Hilpert M, Ilievski V, Coady M, Andrade-Gutierrez M, Yan B, Chillrud S, Navas-Acien A, Kleiman N. A custom-built low-cost chamber for exposing rodents to e-cigarette aerosol: practical considerations. Inhal Toxicol. 2020; 31(11-12):399-408.

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