New Study Suggests E-Cigarette Vapor Contains Lead And Other Harmful Metals

Since the rise of vaping as an alternative to cigarette smoking, researchers have been divided as to whether it is safer, or more dangerous as a smoking cessation tool. The majority of recent studies have leaned toward the latter, and the latest paper on the topic comes with a similarly dire warning — e-cigarette vapor might contain toxic levels of lead and other dangerous metals.

On Thursday, a team of researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health published a study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, which analyzed the mods, or vaping devices, used by a total of 56 e-cigarette smokers. Although only a small number of participants took part in the study, the researchers discovered that the e-cigarette vapor from many of the devices contained aerosols with high levels of lead, chromium, manganese, nickel, and other metals.

A report from Forbes pointed out that the metals were found in small amounts in the refilling dispensers. This wasn’t unusual, as this had been reported in earlier studies, but what struck the researchers as interesting was the substantially greater concentration of some of the metals in the e-juices heated by the coils used in e-cigarette atomizers. Furthermore, high concentrations of metals were also found in the e-cigarette vapor itself.

As noted by Forbes, the aforementioned metals have been linked to several adverse health issues, including different types of cancers affecting the lungs, brain, liver, and the immune system.

“It’s important for the FDA, the e-cigarette companies and vapers themselves to know that these heating coils, as currently made, seem to be leaking toxic metals–which then get into the aerosols that vapers inhale,” read a statement from senior study author Ana Maria Rule.

Advocates of e-cigarette use have done their part to promote the perceived benefits of vaping, which, according to Forbes, is considered a “harm-reduction” tool, as it could potentially reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses, while still allowing users to enjoy a similar experience to conventional cigarette smoking. In January, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released a 600-page report that described e-cigarettes as being safer than regular cigarettes for individual smokers, but also stressed that the long-term effects of vaping remain largely unknown, according to Vox.

Despite how NASEM’s new literature seemed to paint a positive picture of vaping, the new Johns Hopkins study is just one of several in recent weeks to focus mainly on its potential drawbacks. Earlier this month, a pair of studies also suggested that e-cigarette vapor might be riskier than previously thought, but for different reasons other than the presence of metals. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, one of the studies suggested that frequent e-cigarette use might increase the risk of cancer due to cell mutations, while the other paper revealed that flavorings in e-liquids, especially sweeter, bolder flavors such as cinnamon and vanilla, could be a risk factor for liver disease, even if the e-juices do not contain any nicotine.