Toxic heavy metals are leaking from some e-cigarettes, and the consumption of those heavy metals has been linked to brain damage and a variety of other health problems.
Only a few weeks ago, UK health bodies suggested electronic cigarettes should be in hospital shops to encourage smokers to wean themselves off their habit.
But a new study has discovered toxic levels of heavy metals in e-cigarette aerosols, once again raising doubts over just how safe vaping really is.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analysed e-cigarette vaporisers borrowed from 56 daily vapers, and found many were being exposed to potentially toxic levels of chromium, nickel, and lead.
Their research comes on the back of a preliminary study they’d conducted in 2016, which had detected elevated levels of nickel and chromium in the urine and saliva of e-cigarette users.
High concentrations of these heavy metals have been linked to a variety of health conditions in the past, including cardiovascular disease, brain damage, and a variety of cancers.
While the studies don’t go as far as to connect vaping with any of these health problems, it’s no great leap to infer there’s an increase in risk.
“We don’t know yet whether metals are chemically leaching from the coil or vaporising when it’s heated,” says the study’s senior author, Ana María Rule.
Just under half of the devices analysed produced aerosols with lead levels that exceed Environmental Protection Agency limits. The average levels of nickel, chromium, and manganese were also in an unsafe margin.
“These were median levels only,” says Rule.
“The actual levels of these metals varied greatly from sample to sample, and often were much higher than safe limits.”