Can Propylene Glycol commonly found in
Electronic Cigarettes help fight pneumonia, influenza
and other respiratory
Please note: liquid in an electronic cigarette primary
ingredient is Propylene Glycol
Medicine: Air Germicide
Original link, Time,CNN http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,932876,00.html
Monday Nov. 16, 1942
A powerful preventive against pneumonia, influenza and other respiratory
diseases may be promised by a brilliant series of experiments conducted during
the last three years at the University of Chicago’s Billings Hospital. Dr.
Oswald Hope Robertson last week was making final tests with a new germicidal
vapor—propylene glycol—to sterilize air.
If the results so far
obtained are confirmed, one of the age-old searches of man will finally achieve
This venture gave promising
results, but all such research lapsed for another decade. Within the last few
years, several research groups (notably the University of Pennsylvania’s new
Air-Borne Disease Laboratories) again began testing various sprays. Many
chemicals were found to kill airborne micro-organisms quickly, even in
concentrations as low as one gram of chemical per 500 cu. ft. of air.
Trouble was that all these
air germicides smelled bad, or were toxic, or irritated the respiratory tract.
Dr. Robertson’s propylene glycol vapor is odorless, tasteless, nontoxic,
non-irritating, cheap, highly bactericidal.
Its discovery was accidental.
Dr. Robertson and his colleagues were trying out another possible germicide—a
detergent or “soapless soap” (similar to Dreft, Aerosol and other products
widely sold for household and industrial use). Water solutions of the detergent
were only mildly effective, so the researchers tried solutions of detergents in
propylene glycol, which is a sort of thin glycerin.
Results were much better.
Then the researchers found that the propylene glycol itself was a potent germicide.
One part of glycol in 2,000,000 parts of air would—within a few seconds—kill
concentrations of air-suspended pneumococci, streptococci and other bacteria
numbering millions to the cubic foot.
How did it work? Respiratory
disease bacteria float about in tiny droplets of water breathed, sneezed and
coughed from human beings. The germicidal glycol also floats in infinitesimally
Calculations showed that if
droplet had to hit droplet, it would take two to 200 hours for sterilization of
sprayed air to take place. Since sterilization took place in seconds, Dr.
Robertson concluded that the glycol droplets must give off gas molecules which
dissolve in the water droplets and kill the germs within them.
Dr. Robertson placed groups
of mice in a chamber and sprayed its air first with propylene glycol, then with
influenza virus. All the mice lived. Then he sprayed the chamber with virus
alone. All the mice died.
Propylene glycol is harmless
to man when swallowed or injected into the veins. It is also harmless to mice
who have breathed it for long periods. But medical science is cautious—there
was still a remote chance that glycol might accumulate harmfully in the erect
human lungs which, unlike those of mice, do not drain themselves.
So last June Dr. Robertson
began studying the effect of glycol vapor on monkeys imported from the
University of Puerto Rico’s School of Tropical Medicine. So far, after many
months’ exposure to the vapor, the monkeys are happy and fatter than ever. Dr. Robertson does not
expect mankind to live, like his monkeys, continuously in an atmosphere of
glycol vapor; but it should be most valuable in such crowded places as schools
and theaters, where most respiratory diseases are picked up.
Can Propylene Glycol commonly
found in Electronic Cigarette’s help fight pneumonia, influenza and other
Please note: liquid in an electronic
ingredient is Propylene Glycol
in partnership with CNN