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E-cigarette users at risk of brain and heart damage

E-cigarette users at risk of brain and heart damage

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found risky levels of toxins - including lead, chromium and arsenic - in e-cigarette vapor.

Once the liquid is heated, scientists found high levels of lead, chromium, nickel, manganese, and zinc. However, among 10 users significant levels of arsenic were found in refill e-liquid, tanks and aerosol samples.

However, research shows that some e-cigarette flavors contain toxins that harm cells, and this new study adds to the existing evidence that vaping isn't entirely safe. Working with participants' devices, the scientists tested for 15 metals in e-liquids in the refilling dispensers, e-liquids in coil-containing e-cigarette tanks, and in generated aerosols.

Part of the purported safety advantage of e-cigarettes over combustible tobacco is that they use liquid vapor instead of smoke from burning plant, paper and chemical products.

Ana Maria Rule, who is an assistant scientist in the Bloomberg School's Department of Environmental Health and Engineering and also the senior author of the study says,"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".

Chronic exposure to metals such as those found in the study have been linked to negative effects on the lungs, brain, heart, liver, and immune system. The metals have also been linked to cancer, according to Forbes. In E-cigarettes, an electric current passes through a metal coil to heat "e-liquids", creating an aerosol vapor.

The last several years have seen a surge in vaping - especially among teenagers and young adults - as health officials, doctors and even tobacco companies have touted it as a safer alternative to cigarette smoking.

In the study, published online in Environmental Health Perspectives on February 21, the scientists examined e-cigarette devices owned by a sample of 56 users.

Furthermore, comparing vaping to cigarettes was not the study's authors' primary aim. While the study's authors hypothesize that the metals appear in the e-cig vapor thanks to the metal coils, they do not know how arsenic apparently finds it way into the e-cig refill liquid itself.

E-cigarette heating coils typically are made of nickel, chromium and a few other elements, making them the most obvious sources of metal contamination, although the source of the lead remains a mystery.

Rule and her colleagues, including lead author Pablo Olmedo, a postdoctoral researcher at the Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School at the time of the study, recruited 56 daily e-cigarette users from vaping conventions and e-cigarette shops around Baltimore in autumn 2015.

The next step, Rule said in a release from Johns Hopkins, is to get to the bottom of whether these metals are harmful or not - and to present that data to regulators so they can make informed decisions.

A new recently published study on the Environmental Health Perspectives portal reveals that the electronic cigarettes are not totally free of risks and suggests that the very act of vaporizing can expose people to unsafe levels of toxic metals such as lead and arsenic.


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