The average particle in tobacco smoke ranges in size from 0.3 to 0.5 microns (one millionth of a meter). More recent research has found that similar particles in electronic cigarettes average in size ranging from 0.18 to 0.27 microns. Not surprisingly, this has sparked a number of arguments about why smaller particles are a bad thing — most of them seeming to come from the same voices that always argue against electronic cigarettes.
The argument goes that the smaller particles are better capable of penetrating the lungs’ defenses. This means than these particles embed deeper in the lungs and may — as the argument goes — create a burden on the lungs even if the particle in question isn’t actually toxic.
Obviously, more research is required. But one wonders how detrimental the size of these particles really is when taken as a part of the total harm structure of electronic cigarettes — particularly when compared to tobacco.
Studies have already found that what few concerning constituents occur in both tobacco and electronic cigarettes tends to occur 10 to 1000 times less in e-cigs than in tobacco. So while the smaller average particle size may be a knock against the products, it seems unlikely to out pace the benefit of consuming dramatically reduced or removed toxins.
I’m more inclined to think that particle size is a net neutral game. Larger particles may not get as far, but they seem more likely to gum up the works — and likely to breakdown into just-as-harmful smaller particles. Meanwhile, smaller particles might penetrate defenses more, but the body is probably more capable of ignoring and enduring their overall effect.