The first thing they found was ridiculous: the employees kept nicotine base (100 mg/mL) in the refrigerator that also was home to food they ate. That should just never happen. And it really shouldn’t happen when a government agency is observing your routines. Employees also rarely wore gloves (which were present and available) when handling 100 mg/mL nic. Again, not wise.
As far as air samples…well, none of them even remotely approached the various exposure limits NIOSH compared to. Results varied, but overall there just wasn’t much to be said.
“The results for the area air samples taken over the entire work day in the juice bar and
lounge areas using silica gel tubes are presented in Table 3,” says the report. “Diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione, 2,3-hexanedione, and acetoin were not detected in the lounge area. For the full-shift area air samples taken behind the juice bar using silica gel tubes, we found detectable, but not quantifiable, concentrations of 2,3-pentanedione on day 1. We did not find detectable
concentrations of any of the other flavoring chemicals in the other juice bar samples.”
Formaldehyde was found in two of the eight samples at about half of the NIOSH recommended exposure level (REL). The rest of the samples were lower or not detectable. “Low concentrations of formaldehyde exist in many indoor environments because of off gassing from furnishings, clothing, and other materials,” they noted.
Nicotine measures came with an asterisk. “Estimated concentration; this concentration was between the minimum detectable and minimum quantifiable concentrations,” they said. In other words, the amount measured was too low to provide an accurate number.
Volatile organic compounds: “Employees exposures to all of the compounds quantified were well below OELs [occupational exposure limits].”
Metals: “Quantifiable concentrations of calcium (15–94 micrograms per 100 squared centimeters [µg/100 cm2 ]), copper (ND–0.49 µg/100 cm2 ), iron (ND–1.8 µg/100 cm2), and potassium (ND–17 µg/100 cm2) were identified in the wipe samples. Detectable, but not quantifiable, concentrations of chromium, lead, magnesium, nickel, phosphorus, strontium, and tellurium were also identified in some samples.”
“Some of the other elements that we detected on surfaces are found in human sweat (calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous),” they noted. “It is unknown if their presence on surfaces was from e-cigarettes, people touching surfaces, or both.”
NIOSH’s conclusions were pretty bland.
“Employees were exposed to detectable levels of diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione in the air
while working in the vape shop,” they wrote. “Although the measured concentrations were below all applicable OELs, to better protect the health of employees we recommend that the employer
implement a policy prohibiting vaping in the workplace with e-liquids that contain diacetyl and
“The concentration of other vaping-related chemicals that we measured were also below their relevant OELs. Employees should be trained on proper chemical handling procedures and the need for consistent use of chemical protective nitrile gloves when handling liquids containing nicotine.”