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Novel method of nicotine quantification in electronic cigarette liquids and aerosols


The electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) has emerged as popular electronic nicotine delivery devices (ENDs). However, the general safety and validity of e-cigarettes for nicotine delivery efficacy are still not well understood. This study developed a new method for efficient measurement of nicotine levels in both the liquids (e-liquids) used in e-cigarettes and the aerosols generated from the e-cigarettes. Protonation of the pyrrolidine nitrogen of nicotine molecules by addition of excess hydrochloric acid affords an aminium salt that is readily quantified by Fourier transform ion cyclotron mass spectrometry (FT-ICR-MS). The kinetics of nicotine protonation was studied using 1H NMR spectroscopy. Quantitative analyses of nicotine in commercial e-liquids and in the corresponding derived e-cigarette aerosols were carried out using direct infusion FT-ICR-MS. The 1H NMR study of nicotine protonation revealed a first order reaction and an activation energy of 30.05 kJ mol-1. The nicotine levels measured in the commercial e-liquids were within a wide and highly variable range of –2.94% to +25.20% around the manufacturer’s stated values. The results indicated considerable differences between the measured levels and the advertised levels of nicotine in the e-liquids. The nicotine quantity measured in aerosols increased linearly both with nicotine level in e-liquids (same number of puffs) and with number of puffs (same e-liquids). These data show that quality control of e-liquids along with use characteristics are major variables in efficacy of nicotine delivery.

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Publication details

The article was received on 14 Apr 2017, accepted on 17 Jun 2017 and first published on 19 Jun 2017

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7AY00501F
Citation: Anal. Methods, 2017, Accepted Manuscript
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    Novel method of nicotine quantification in electronic cigarette liquids and aerosols

    M. Ogunwale, Y. Chen, W. Theis, M. H. Nantz, D. Conklin and X. Fu, Anal. Methods, 2017, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C7AY00501F

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