Many people turn to vaping, because they want a healthier alternative to tobacco products and, for a while, e-cigs seemed the ideal choice. It offered similar pleasure without the risks presented by traditional cigarette smoking. However, new studies indicate that vaping presents health hazards of its own. These do not include those that have been injured from a vape pen explosion.
Does Vaping Cause Heavy Metal Poisoning?
That seems to be the indication, if recent studies are to be believed. The studies found that there is lead in vape smoke, among other metals. The metals were found to be present in toxic levels in the e-liquids used for vaping.
In one study conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the vapors of 56 e-cigarette users were analyzed. Ana María Rule, PhD, MHS, who headed the study, explained that the vapors were examined as soon as they were expelled, so the chemical properties could be accurately studied. She revealed that the vapors contained alarmingly high levels of heavy metals. In addition to the high quantity of e-cig lead, the vapors also contained high concentrations of nickel, chromium, and manganese.
Even though most people assume e-cigs are safe, Dr. Rule says the vapors they give off actually violate standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. She explained that the agency has set standards for what qualifies as safe air quality levels, which establish what’s safe for human health. In examining the levels of metals found in e-cig vapors, the study revealed that the content of metals exceeded the E.P.A.’s air quality standards.
Are People Really Being Affected?
While the study looked at the vapors given off by e-cigs, some might argue that this doesn’t prove it’s really affecting the health of those who choose to vape. To address this, Rule’s team also looked at the presence of metals in the 56 subjects’ urine and saliva. The researchers in the study found that the participants has higher than expected levels of metals, such as nickel and chromium, in their bodily fluids. The levels of these metals were equivalent to the levels found in the e-liquids, suggesting that the chemical properties aren’t lost or diluted, once it’s transformed into the vapor.
The practice of vaping has grown into a million dollar enterprise. It involves the use of a metal coil contained within a battery-operated electronic device that heats the liquid, until it’s vaporized and inhaled by the smoker. There are more than 600 types of e-cigs available on the market and users can select among nearly 8,000 flavors of the nicotine-infused liquid.
Dr. Rule says she never expected to find toxic levels of heavy metals, when she began her study. She was simply curious to study the chemical makeup of the vapor, considering how popular vaping has become in recent years. She was alarmed to find such a high concentration of these metals, particularly because of the harmful effects they can have on the body. Nickel, chromium, manganese, and lead are commonly linked to the development of various illnesses, including:
- Lung cancer
- Liver failure
- Immune deficiencies
- Cardiovascular disease
- Brain damage
- Other types of cancer
It’s unknown how these metals are getting into the e-liquids. While the coil itself may contaminate the liquid through the vaping process, that doesn’t explain everything. For instance, the coils aren’t made from lead, so it’s unknown why lead is so commonly found in the vapors. Rule suggests that the containers holding the liquids may contain lead and some of the other metals, but she couldn’t confirm that hypothesis. She said more research would have to be conducted in order to determine the source of these dangerous metals.
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