Date of Thesis

Spring 2018


Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are drug delivery devices that offer an alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes while still producing nicotine for consumption. In this work, e-cigarette effluent was tested for the presence of carbon monoxide (CO) to further scientific knowledge of the health hazards of these drug delivery devices and to aid legislators in creating public health regulations. The varying settings and quick market growth and model evolution have resulted in sporadic and limited regulations. Experiments were run using re-buildable drip atomizers and tank atomizers with menthol (0% nicotine and 0.9% nicotine) and black ice (mentholated berry, 0% nicotine) e-liquids. CO is a well-known toxin, and works by preferentially binding to hemoglobin, not allowing oxygen to travel through the body leading to headaches, nausea, and at high enough concentrations, death. While CO has known deleterious health effects, its presence and concentrations are variable depending on e-cigarette model and on power and temperature settings. By exploiting the IR absorbing characteristics of CO and by using sensitive laser spectroscopy, CO was determined to exist in e-cigarette effluent at levels between 1 and 9.5 ppm. CO concentration exposures among users will vary from this measurement as inhalation or flow rates may differ. It was also determined that CO concentration increases with increasing voltage until around 6 V. Flavorings and voltage were found to be the main variables that controlled CO concentrations in the effluent. With this knowledge, regulators can set limits on e-cigarette voltage ranges and flavor compositions to reduce CO emissions and better protect e-cigarette users from hazardous CO exposure.


carbon monoxide, aerosols, electronic cigarettes, CO poisoning

Access Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Science


Chemical Engineering

Minor, Emphasis, or Concentration


First Advisor

Dabrina Dutcher

Second Advisor

Karen Castle