A new study discovered critical traces of metals, for example, lead leak from e-cigarette heating coils into the vapor. They found that the liquid in the e-cigarette, the liquid in the pen's chamber and the overall vapor itself releases carcinogens including chromium, lead, nickel and arsenic.
Almost half of the e-cigarettes were producing vapor with lead concentrations over the maximums considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
E-cigarette users are inhaling significant amounts of lead and other toxic metals linked to heart and brain damage with each puff on their devices, a new study warns. While they found minimal amounts of metals in the refilling dispenser, much larger amounts of toxic metals were observed in the e-liquid exposed to the heating coils in the tanks.
Although the study was small, the authors say its findings are important and warrant evaluation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to the potential health consequences of exposure to these metals.
"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", Dr. Ana María Rule, an assistant scientist in the Bloomberg School's Department of Environmental Health and Engineering said in a release. E-cigarette companies have often touted the devices as less risky than regular cigarettes. The aerosol is created after an electric current produced by a battery passes through a metal coil, which then heats nicotine-based liquids.
But most worrisome were the types and quantities of metals found in the vapor that the e-cigarette-users were liberally puffing on every day. Four metals were excluded because of low levels: arsenic, titanium, uranium and tungsten.
In the study, the scientists examined e-cigarette devices owned by a sample of 56 users. Precisely how metals get from the coils into e-liquid is another mystery.
The study involved analyzing vaping devices used by 56 e-cigarette smokers, and it found that numerous devices had high levels of lead, chromium, nickel, and manganese, to name a few alarming metals. Similarly, median aerosol concentrations of nickel, chromium and manganese approached or exceeded safe limits.
However, the source of the lead and how metals get into the surrounding e-liquid remains a mystery.
"We know there are many young vapers that have never smoked", Dr. Rule said. During the study, a highly toxic metal is also found in the e-liquid tank, e-refill and in the aerosol samples as well.
The question that is asked now is how harmful is the use of the E-cigarettes.
The next step for Rule and her team is to expand their research and understand the effect of these toxic metals on people.
The study appears online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The study comes on the heels of research out past year that detected metals in e-liquids used in the devices.