The Bloomberg School laboratory has just highlighted a potentially dangerous effect of the e-cigarette. This study shows that the aerosols emitted by vaping devices contain high concentrations of heavy metals, including lead.
The study, carried about by Ana Maria Rule, sought to quantify the level of toxic substances present in e-cigarette vapour. The concentration levels that were measured either reached or exceeded levels that are considered safe. An acceptable levels of toxins were established by the US Environmental Protection Agency, an organization that is independent of the United States government. The observed rates of toxicity are almost 25 times higher in aerosols, compared to the amount of toxins found in e-liquids before heating.
Will these findings challenge the supposed benefits of e-cigarettes when compared to traditional cigarettes? Not necessarily. Indeed, the study’s results, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, should be considered with caution.
The e-cigarette remains a very good alternative to tobacco
First of all, the relevant question is to know where the heavy metals that are inhaled actually come from. The nicotine present in e-liquids is extracted from tobacco leaves. To grow, the plant draws its nutritive resources from the earth. However, the earth is polluted by toxic substances such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, and nickel. Throughout the plant’s existence, it will store these metals in its roots and leaves. Consequently, the dangerous products found in the soil can not only end up in regular tobacco, but also in e-liquids.
However, the study’s results should not alarm vapers. Indeed, the experiment conducted by Dr. Rule is incomplete. In order to come to a clear and unambiguous conclusion, the researcher would have had to perform a comparative study of the amount of metal generated by vaping pens compared to traditional cigarettes.
Farsalinos counter attacks
Additionally, Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, known for his research on the impact of e-cigarettes, is very reassuring. After carrying out his own research in 2015, the level of metallic content present in aerosols only has a minor impact on the health of vapers. He took to Facebook to explain:
“For those asking questions about the latest study on metal emissions from e-cigarettes, here is my comment: 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.”
And according to David Eaton of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Washington, the e-cigarette remains, for the time being, the best option to quit smoking tobacco.