Ecigarette Studies Don’t Replicate Use in the Real World

A doctor has claimed a recent study that suggests lead and other toxic heavy metals are present in vapour and possibly heating coils from ecigarettes does not represent vaping in real-life situations.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently tested ecigarette vaporisers from 56 daily vapers, with findings suggesting that many were being exposed to potentially toxic levels of chromium, nickel, and lead. The findings were published in the Journal Environmental Research.

But Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, Department of Pharmacology at the University of Patras has said the study was  does not represent real-life vaping habits.

Newsweek reported that ‘the data showed that nearly 50 percent of aerosol samples contained lead in quantities above the Ambient Air Quality Standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, the concentrations of nickel, chromium and manganese found in nearly half of the aerosol samples exceeded the limits. Every e-cigarette in the study was different, so the amounts varied per model. This variety, according to Ana Maria Rule the research lead author, is one of the study’s strengths.’

Ms Rule said: “This is the first paper that actually shows that the concentrations in the aerosol that people are inhaling are actually comparable to limits that are health-based limits. Every person that came into our study brought in their own device.  We think it’s representative of what people are vaping in the country.”

However leading Dr Farsalinos said: “The authors once again confuse themselves and everyone else by using environmental safety limits related to exposure with every single breath, and apply them to vaping. However, humans take more than 17,000 (thousand) breaths per day but only 400-600 puffs per day from an ecigarette.

He added: “The ‘significant amount’ of metals the authors reported they found were measured in ug/kg. In fact they are so low that for some cases (chromium and lead) I calculated that you need to vape more than 100 ml per day in order to exceed the FDA limits for daily intake from inhalational medications.”

He did however also say that there should still be further investigation into vapour and emissions from ecigarettes.

“We do not know if these levels are dangerous, but their presence is troubling and could mean that the metals end up in the aerosol that ecigarette users inhale,” said Ms Rule.  “One of the things that is troubling is that the metals in ecigarette coils, which heat the liquid that creates the aerosol, are toxic when inhaled, so perhaps regulators might want to look into an alternative material for ecigarette heating coils.”

Scientists at John Hopkins made a preliminary study in 2016, and that research had detected elevated levels of nickel and chromium in the urine and saliva of ecigarette users.  The latest study was an extension of that.

High concentrations of these heavy metals have been linked to a number of health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, brain damage, and certain cancers.

Current Tobacco Products Directive, the law under which all UK nicotine containing eliquid is regulated, includes testing for heavy metals in emissions.