"It's important for the FDA, the e-cigarette companies and vapers themselves to know that these heating coils, as now made, seem to be leaking toxic metals - which then get into the aerosols that vapers inhale", says study senior author Ana María Rule. Chromium, nickel, and cadmium all exhibited higher emission rates that traditional cigarettes, while the concentration of lead in some of the e-cigarette aerosol samples was found to be similar to levels seen in cigarettes. How the arsenic got into these e-liquids is yet another mystery-and another potential focus for regulators.
Sales of vaping devices and e-cigarettes, which heat up nicotine-filled liquid into an aerosol that is then inhaled, have grown into a more than $8 billion per year worldwide behemoth, Bloomberg reported.
Scientists specifically choose to study samples from e-cigarette consumers rather than purchasing e-cigarettes from a store or company in order to assess typically used devices.
A new study from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health has found that a significant number of e-cigarette devices generate aerosols with potentially unsafe levels of lead, chromium, manganese and/or nickel. Now a new study from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore finds some e-cigarettes are leaking toxic heavy metals into the vapor users are inhaling.
The culprits, the scientists think, are the heating coils that convert the e-liquid into a vapor to be inhaled. Median lead concentration in the aerosols, for example, was more than 25 times greater than the median level in the refill dispensers.
Although the Food and Drug Administration has the authority to regulate e-cigarettes, it is considering its options.
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"These were median levels only". They found low levels of metals when testing the dispenser alone, but when the liquid was heated into an aerosol, numerous samples then produced high levels of the toxins.
They found that there wasn't much to worry about with the e-liquid itself - there were only minimal levels of risky metals like lead, chromium, and nickel and manganese.
A study from Yale Cancer Center found that the nicotine in e-cigarettes, in and of itself, can cause cancer by damaging DNA.
"We don't know yet whether metals are chemically leaching from the coil or vaporising when it's heated", Ana added.
The investigation also revealed that metal concentrations in the vapors were higher for e-cigarettes in which the coils were changed more often.
The Johns Hopkinsteam is planning future studies on vaping and metal exposures.
The researchers say they want to conduct more studies to more accurately determine the risks carried by e-cigarettes.