Toxic Metals Found in E-Cigarette Vapors

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They were specifically interested in whether the metal coil that vape pens use to heat the liquid in order to turn it into vapor was leeching or generating toxic metals. A large number of the devices were found to produce aerosols with potentially risky levels of lead, as well as other metals such as chromium, manganese and nickel.

A "significant" number of devices produced aerosols with potentially unsafe levels of lead, chromium, manganese and/or nickel, the researchers found. Aerosol metal concentrations were highest for e-cigarette users with more frequently changed coils.

But when they tested the liquid in the storage chamber, as well as the vapor, they found much higher levels of toxic metals.

'These were median levels only, ' says senior study author Dr Ana María Rule.

Researchers sampled 56 vape devices from real life vape smokers - not newer models that aren't subject to the same toxins - that proved heating up substances in plastic is actually very bad for you.

The levels of metals in the dispensers - where the e-liquid is kept before it is heated - were nominal and of little concern. They found highly toxic arsenic in 10 samples, according to USA Today. But in over half of the e-cigs, the liquid inside the dispenser and the aerosol contained significant levels of chromium, nickel, and lead.

"It's important for the FDA, e-cigarette companies and vapers themselves to know that these heating coils, as now made, seem to be leaking toxic metals - which then get into the aerosols that vapers inhale", senior study author Ana Maria Rule of the Bloomberg School said, according to USA Today. Chronic exposure to such metals by inhalation has been linked to ailments and diseases ranging from cancer to lung and heart problems. E-cigarette companies have often touted the devices as less risky than regular cigarettes.

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The full study has been published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

E-cigarette heating coils are normally made of nickel, chromium and a few other elements.

The study backs up a previous one done by the same researchers back in 2017, which found heavy metals in several different brands of e-liquid - though at wildly inconsistent rates.

The investigation also couldn't identify how metals get into the e-liquid from the coils. The process creates an aerosol, which contains vaporized e-liquid and tiny liquid droplets. Recent studies have found that e-cigarette liquids contain flavorings and other chemicals that harm cells in standard toxicology tests.

"We know there are many young vapers that have never smoked", Dr. Rule said. "We've established with this study that there are exposures to these metals, which is the first step, but we need also to determine the actual health effects".

The Food and Drug Administration has the authority to regulate e-cigarettes but is still considering how to do so.

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