Scientific research dating as far back as the 1940s shows that the vaporized propylene glycol commonly found in the e-liquids of vaping products may have some secret positive public health benefits. A world-class scientist by the name of Dr. Theodore Puck discovered that when this ingredient is heated to approximately 800 degrees Fahrenheit, it kills numerous forms of airborne bacteria including streptococci, pneumococci, and staphylococci.
Streptococci is a documented cause of such common ailments as strep throat, scarlet fever, impetigo, and even skin irritations and rashes. Pneumococci is associated with pneumonia, bacterial meningitis, middle-ear infections, and sepsis or infections of the blood. Meanwhile, streptococci is also attributed to impetigo, blood infections, contagious skin infections, and even food poisoning.
Dr. Puck, the Black Plague, and vaping
How did a 1940s researcher come to such remarkable scientific conclusions? In his formative years, a young Theodore Puck was rather interested in reading historic articles about the Black Plaque epidemic of the late Middle Ages that killed tens of thousands of Europeans. In his reading, he discovered that the epidemic finally ended only after local townsfolk began burning buildings and other structures completely to the ground in an attempt to curtail the spreading of the disease. He hypothesized that there must have been some unknown agent in the ashy air that contributed to the bacteria’s demise.
As an adult scientist, Dr. Puck wanted to find a more cost-effective alternative. So, he began experimenting with multiple substances heated via vaporizers. He would ultimately stumble upon propylene glycol as a highly effective antibacterial. He then documented his findings in multiple papers, one of the more noteworthy being The Bactericidal action of propylene glycol vapor on microorganisms suspended in air still published today on the NLB-NIH website.
“The observations here reported add further support to the previously proposed conception of the mechanism of the lethal action of propylene glycol vapor, namely, that a bactericidal concentration of the glycol accumulates in the bacterial droplet as a result of contact with and absorption of glycol molecules from the surrounding atmosphere.”
“Pneumococci were killed by amounts of propylene glycol as low as 1 gm. in 20 million cc. of air. Concentrations of 1 to 5 million to 1 to 10 million were required to produce the same degree of killing of streptococci and staphylococci.”
Even though his research is readily available online, public health organizations like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are still reluctant to fully endorse vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking. On the other hand, the UK’s Public Health England organization – similar to America’s FDA – now claims openly that vaping is about 95% less harmful than smoking. Who would have known that research from the 1940s would be so useful in helping millions of people to lead a smoke-free lifestyle nearly 80 years later?