A New Danger from e-Cigarettes

The use of electronic cigarettes continues to increase, despite uncertainties about their toxicity and health effects.  In 2016, 11 percent of American high school students and 4.3 percent of middle school students – more than 2 million youth – were current users of e-cigarettes. (FDA)

These electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) work by heating a liquid – usually containing nicotine – into an aerosol, which is inhaled by the user.

Scientific data are inconclusive whether e-cigarette nicotine is as harmful as that of regular cigarettes.  But researchers have now discovered a new danger: e-cigarette vapors contain significant amounts of toxic metals.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins sampled 56 e-cigarette devices.  They were investigating whether any metals transferred from the heating coils to the generated aerosols.  They found that significant numbers of the devices generated aerosols with potentially unsafe levels of toxic metals (including chromium, nickel and lead) as well as metals that are toxic when inhaled (including manganese and zinc).

Chronic inhalation of these metals has been linked to lung, liver, immune, cardiovascular and brain damage, including cancers.  (Johns Hopkins)

Metal analyses were made using an Agilent triple-quadrupole ICP-MS.

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