3D Printing Proves Scientists Really Have No Clue

Once again researchers are scraping the bottom of the barrel in an effort to “prove” that vaping is bad for you. Most readers will remember the worst vaping article of 2016 in The Sun – though there was an altogether bizarre story drawn from an anecdotal story on Reddit which may pip that by a nose. This time around, vaping is apparently no better – or specifically, found to be just as bad as (wait for it) – unfiltered tobacco cigarettes.

Yep. Couldn’t make it up.

As it happens, I’ve managed to get my sneaky, grubby mitts on said paper and…well, judge for yourself.

The current device is designed for rapid assays of liquid samples. We focus here on two types of samples for reasons outlined below. The first is cigarette and e-cigarette smoke since smoking is a major contributor to heart disease and cancer. The second is contaminated water, a major public health concern.

This study, and I’ll use that term loosely, is using a 3D printed system to “develop a more sophisticated and sensitive general automated array to assess genotoxic potential of environmental samples”. In other words, to see which chemicals being looked at will interact with genetic material. Remember the last cell study? It’s doing the self-same thing, only this time instead of incredibly expensive machinery, they’ve designed and printed a “cheap” version. For some unknown reason, these researchers decided that they’ll look at both e-cigarette aerosol, cigarette smoke and contaminated water. Two completely different ends of the scale. Water, and smoking/vaping.

Smoke (vapor) extracts from e-cigarettes and filtered and nonfiltered tobacco cigarettes were collected using an artificial inhalation device.

Wait. An “artificial inhalation device”. That’s either going to be a smoking machine, like all the other studies, or it’ll be..

A syringe. A bloody syringe. Of all the most ridiculous, non-real-world-like methods to choose! A syringe will draw a relatively consistent amount, but in no way can it reflect the inhalation action of the human lung, mostly because when us mere mortals breathe in – either normally, or during a puff – we often taper the inhale so that the final second or so draws substantially less than we do at the beginning.

Strike one for methodology already.

To keep experimental conditions representative and relevant for vaping usage by smokers we extracted 100 puffs and smoke from 5 tobacco cigarettes for comparison.

I wonder where they get this idea from?

Vaping anywhere from 75 to 175 puffs from e-cigarettes is equivalent on average to 5−6 tobacco cigarettes per day.

Really? Let’s have a quick look at the cited paper for that figure. “Daily use (120 puffs and five refills per day, that is, 24 puffs per refill) was in the range of the number of puffs inhaled by daily cigarette smokers” – which according to Etter et al, equates to roughly 15 cigarettes per day:

So, not at all representative then. If that is representative, then it would be approximately 11-12 puffs “per cigarette” for a 15-a-day smoker.

Approximately 15−30 puffs from an e-cigarette is considered equivalent to smoke from one tobacco cigarette.

Sigh, yet some more random figures. Oh, but the first paper this statement cites is none other than our friendly engineer-come-scientist, Professor Stanton A. Glantz, so I think we can pretty much throw that equivalence in the bin can’t we? Considering this statement:

Smoke/aerosol density was stable for conventional brands and for e-cigarettes over the first 10 puffs; however, aerosol density of e-cigarettes dropped during subsequent smoking, and higher vacuums were required to produce aerosol as the puff number increased.

Well of course you’re going to need “higher vauums” you utter dullard. This is where science spectacularly fails to account for real-world usage. When the level of liquid gets below a certain point, it fails to wick correctly leading to – you guessed it – a dry fucking hit. Naturally, in that paper the “smoking protocol” is daft:

Each e-cigarette was smoked using a fully charged battery with its brand-specific cartridge and atomizer. To mimic an active smoker, the peristaltic pump speed was reduced to zero until just before every puff was taken at which time pump speed was turned up to the desired level. The puffer box was calibrated to draw 2.2-s long puffs of smoke at a frequency of 1 puff/min.

Depending on the type of device an individual chooses to use, that regimen is either going to provide zero satisfaction or give you a dry hit. However, it is rather telling that nowhere in this illustrious paper does it mention what vapour product the researchers used. That in itself is rather telling don’t ya think? Who wants to bet on an ego with a CE4?

Of course, the second of the two citations isn’t much better as it looks at how vapour products are advertised – or were, back in 2014 at least.

Strike two for piss-poor methodology.

So what did they actually find after “20 puffs of e-cigarettes was taken as equivalent to smoke from one tobacco cigarette”?

Just what you’d expect to find when you dry out the wick of course. Large quantities of chemical increases (well, duh you fucktards, you fried the coil), with even greater levels for 60 & 100 puffs. Which is where the comment “worse than unfiltered cigarettes” comes from.

What a complete waste of $100 to design that 3D printed shite.

Update

Thanks to Fergus Mason for bringing this to my attention.

Microfluidic arrays were printed from clear acrylate resin using a Formlabs Form1+ stereolithographic 3-D printer. Design files are available on our Web site. Briefly, CAD files incorporating the design were converted to printer instruction files for input to the printer (details in the Supporting Information (SI)). After printing, devices were rinsed internally and externally successively with isopropanol and water, then spray coating with clear acrylic spray (Krylon).

Interestingly, as Fergus kindly pointed out to me, the clear acrylic spray has one or two, uh, problems.

For instance, page one of the safety data sheet lists the following hazards:

  • Flammable aerosols – Category 1
  • Gasses under pressure – Compressed gas
  • Skin corrosion/irritation – Category 2
  • Serious eye damage / eye irritation – Category 2A
  • Carcinogenicity – Category 2
  • Specific target organ toxicity (Single Exposure)(Respiratory tract irritation) – Category 3
  • Specific target organ toxicity (Single Exposure)(Narcotic effects) – Category 3
  • Specific target organ toxicity (Repeated exposure) – Category 2
  • Aspiration hazard – Category 1
  • Percentage of the mixture consisting of ingredient(s) of unknown acute toxicity: 20.4%

Furthermore, the composition details are quite extraordinary:

  • Acetone – 32.81%
  • n-Butyle Acetate – 21.39%
  • Propane – 20.4%
  • Butane – 9.6%
  • Ethyl 3-Ethoxypropionate – 4%
  • Xylene – 2.38%
  • Ethylbenzene – 0.42%

There’s more.

Toxicological information:

  • Butane (LC50 Inhalation vapor) 658000 mg/m3 (in rats admittedly)
  • Xylene (LC50 Inhalation gas) 5000 ppm (again in rats)

The data sheet is quite an eye opener really. This is the stuff that the researchers coated the 3D printed reservoir in. Don’t ya think it might have had an impact on the levels of detected chemicals?

It’s certainly one to ponder.

(Image credit Who is Danny/Shutterstock.com)

10 thoughts on “3D Printing Proves Scientists Really Have No Clue

  1. This type of study is of immense importance. It shows that incompetence can be learned, or strived for.

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  2. Did they find any NNN and NNK? When are those formed? During dry hits?

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    • Considering how lacking the methodology is, I would suspect that the device used was an ego/CE4 or EVOD. Likely top-wick, low airflow and probably abused in terms of how long a “puff” was. Sadly, there is very little data in the paper detailing exactly how they puffed the ecig, they just refer to the three papers I briefly covered.

      They did, unsurprisingly, find NNN, NNK and Benzoapyrene at similar levels (in terms of overall concentration) in ec vapour to the levels found in cigarette smoke, which lends credence to the dry burn theory.

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      • But aren’t NNN and NNK formed during curing and processing of tobacco?

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        • Indeed TNSA’s are formed during the curing and processing of tobacco. As Dr Farsalinos identified two years ago (http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/12/8/9046/htm) if TNSA’s are present at a particular level in the liquid then, gosh darn, they’ll be found in the aerosol in similar levels.

          This therefore suggests that the device & liquid they tested was of the cig-a-like type, and even more likely to be a tobacco flavour.

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