Published: Mon, February 26, 2018
Medical | By Garry George

Cigarettes vapor tested positive for Lead and Arsenic in new study

Cigarettes vapor tested positive for Lead and Arsenic in new study

A new study found significant traces of metals such as lead leak from e-cigarette heating coils into the vapour.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found unsafe levels of toxins - including lead, chromium and arsenic - in e-cigarette vapor.

Aerosol metal concentrations tended to be higher for e-cigarettes with more frequently changed coils, suggesting that fresher coils shed metals more readily.

First, they tested the levels of 15 different metals in the e-liquid dispensers where the substance is contained on the device and in the tank where the liquid is filtered to be heated and vaporized.

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

Researchers aren't sure how these metals got from the coil to the smoke, but they don't think they could be coming from anywhere else. But new research finds they might have their own problems: E-cig users might be exposed to toxins every time they take a hit.

"It's important for the FDA, the 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", Dr. Ana María Rule, an assistant scientist in the Bloomberg School's Department of Environmental Health and Engineering said in a release. The researchers say chronic exposure to the metals has been linked to lung, brain and heart damage, as well as cancer.

In typical e-cigarettes, an electric current produced by a battery passes through a metal coil, which then heats nicotine-based liquids to create an aerosol, Forbes said. Despite the unknown, e-cigarettes are often considered "safer" than regular cigarettes by the general public.

E-cigarette heating coils typically are made of nickel, chromium and a few other elements, making them the most obvious sources of metal contamination, although the source of the lead remains a mystery. The finding that e-cigarettes expose users-known as vapers-to what may be harmful levels of toxic metals could make this issue a focus of future FDA rules.

The question is whether exposure to those toxic metals, at the level found in normal, everyday e-cigarette use, is unsafe. There was not a significant amount of toxic metals in the e-cig liquid itself. The study comes on the heels of research out previous year that detected metals in e-liquids used in the devices. Subsequently, the study went further to analyze the vapor that users inhale in their lungs, which is generated by a metal coil that heats the liquid.

Many recent studies have questioned the safety of electronic cigarettes.

"Our results add to the existing evidence that e-cigarettes are a relevant source of exposure to a wide variety of toxic metals", the study's authors write.

The researchers called on the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to regulate the devices.

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