Vape Update: Toxic Metals Found in E-Cigarette Vapor

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If you think that “vaping” is a safe alternative to smoking, new research suggests you might be inadvertently inhaling unsafe levels of toxic metals.

Scientists say the tiny metal coils that heat the liquid nitrogen in e-cigarettes may contaminate the resulting vapor with lead, chromium, manganese and nickel. The finding raises the possibility that e-cigarettes are not harmless to users.

“We analyzed 15 metals in e-liquid from the refill dispenser — before the liquid meets the heating element — in the vapor, and in the remaining e-liquid in the tank after vaping,” explained study author Pablo Olmedo. He’s an assistant scientist with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health’s department of environmental health and engineering, in Baltimore.

“We found that the metal concentrations were generally higher in the tank and aerosol compared to the refill dispenser,” said Olmedo. That suggests that the heating coil is the smoking gun, he added.

But study co-author Ana Maria Rule pointed out that their team also found “the presence of some metals in some of the liquids even before they are in contact with the coil.”

That could mean that “in addition to the metal coil, other factors could play a role in e-cigarette metal exposure, such as the voltage used to heat the coil,” said Rule, also an assistant scientist at Hopkins.

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SOURCES: Pablo Olmedo, Ph.D., assistant scientist, and Ana Maria Rule, Ph.D., assistant scientist, department of environmental health and engineering, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore; Patricia Folan, R.N., director, Center for Tobacco Control, Northwell Health, Great Neck, N.Y.; Stanton Glantz, Ph.D., professor, medicine, Center for Tobacco Control, Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco; Feb. 21, 2018, Environmental Health Perspectives, online

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