Breaking News
September 22, 2018 - Finding epigenetic signature appears to predict inflammation risk in serious type of IBD
September 22, 2018 - Researchers develop light-based technique to measure very weak magnetic fields
September 22, 2018 - UAB researchers study dysfunction of the immune system associated with NSAID carprofen
September 22, 2018 - QIAGEN and DiaSorin launch automated, CE-marked workflow for high-throughput TB screening
September 22, 2018 - Cardiac MR With Contrast Feasible in Developing World
September 22, 2018 - Daily low-dose aspirin doesn’t reduce heart-attack risk in healthy people
September 21, 2018 - Children with asthma found to be disadvantaged in education and future occupation
September 21, 2018 - Interaction of chemical slurry and ancient shale in fracking wastewater causes radioactivity
September 21, 2018 - Researchers find that sample size is key factor determining accuracy of study results
September 21, 2018 - Study shows how the drive to eat overpowers the brain’s signal to stop
September 21, 2018 - 30 Million Americans Now Have Diabetes
September 21, 2018 - Thousands of breast cancer gene variants engineered and analyzed
September 21, 2018 - The current fellowship interview process is cumbersome — Stanford researchers have a better idea
September 21, 2018 - Progenitor cells for human bone and cartilage have been identified
September 21, 2018 - Study reveals new therapeutic target for pediatric tumor-associated intractable epilepsy
September 21, 2018 - SLU’s College professor receives NIH grant to develop I-TEST project
September 21, 2018 - DermTech completes enrollment in clinical study to assess DNA damage and reversal
September 21, 2018 - Grieving patients treated with talk therapy have lower risk of suicide and psychiatric illness
September 21, 2018 - NIH and FDA call for eliminating involvement of RAC in human gene therapy experiments
September 21, 2018 - New system uses algorithm to convert 2D videos into 3D printed ‘motion sculptures’
September 21, 2018 - Sea squirt model reveals key molecules in dopaminergic neuron differentiation
September 21, 2018 - Effective management of neonatal abstinence syndrome requires coordinated ‘cascade of care’
September 21, 2018 - Refugees seek care for wounds of war
September 21, 2018 - Under the sea, in an octopus’ garden on ecstacy
September 21, 2018 - Eating foods with low nutritional quality ratings linked to cancer risk in large European cohort
September 21, 2018 - Giving kids honest information about water consumption may help them make healthy choices
September 21, 2018 - Horwitz Prize Awarded for Work on Hormones
September 21, 2018 - CHMP issues positive opinion supporting use of Trelegy Ellipta in broader group of COPD patients
September 21, 2018 - Scientists discover new molecules that work together to remove unwanted DNA
September 21, 2018 - Dr. Fenella France to deliver 2019 Plenary Lecture
September 21, 2018 - New research finds that MHC-II molecules have more influence on tumors than MHC-I
September 21, 2018 - Researchers study effects of cardiac cycle in simple learning task
September 21, 2018 - FDA takes new steps to address opioid crisis by approving Opioid Analgesic Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy
September 21, 2018 - Positive Barhemsys Phase 3 Treatment Data Published in Anesthesia & Analgesia
September 21, 2018 - Celiac Disease Screening: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
September 21, 2018 - Autism linked to egg cells’ difficulty creating large proteins
September 21, 2018 - Tweaking nuclear pores could provide new avenue to battle against cancer
September 21, 2018 - Experts warn health care providers to slow down in allowing smart pill in patient care settings
September 21, 2018 - MoreGrasp reports breakthrough development of grasp neuroprosthetics activated by thought control
September 21, 2018 - Study reveals new way to target HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer
September 21, 2018 - CHMP grants positive opinion for VENCLYXTO plus rituximab for treating relapsed/refractory CLL
September 21, 2018 - Study offers solid link between visceral organs and brain’s reward, motivation system
September 21, 2018 - First U.S. patient treated with innovative gene therapy at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
September 21, 2018 - New study shows how Ethiopia has managed to achieve extraordinary progress
September 21, 2018 - Choroidal Detachment – The American Society of Retina Specialists
September 21, 2018 - New clinical trial evaluates aesthetic results of conservative surgery in breast cancer
September 21, 2018 - Discovery of a key protein involved in the development of autism
September 21, 2018 - Air pollution appears to be linked to increased risk of developing dementia
September 21, 2018 - Henry Ford Health System receives $600k grant to study genetic makeup of gliomas
September 21, 2018 - Arthritis common in individuals with varying degrees of depression, finds study
September 21, 2018 - Scientist intends to fight pathogenic bacteria with viruses
September 21, 2018 - New research suggests link between PFAS chemicals and hyperthyroidism in pet cats
September 21, 2018 - Multi-year study data shows impact of new soft contact lens to slow myopia progression in children
September 21, 2018 - Neuroscientists identify circuit for brain’s statistical inference about motion
September 21, 2018 - MILabs’ VECTor6 system wins Commercial Innovation Award at WMIC 2018
September 21, 2018 - Scientists find wild African monkeys infected with bacterium that causes syphilis, yaws in humans
September 21, 2018 - 2006 to 2015 Saw Increase in Severe Maternal Morbidity
September 21, 2018 - Similar changes in the brains of patients with ADHD and emotional instability
September 21, 2018 - Cobalt mining in DR Congo takes a high toll on both creuseurs and environment
September 21, 2018 - Eating fatty fish during pregnancy may boost unborn child’s brain development
September 21, 2018 - Study reveals promising new drug candidate to treat acute renal failure
September 21, 2018 - Neural signal that urges to eat overpowers the one that says to stop
September 21, 2018 - Scientists achieve breakthrough in accelerated diagnosis of multi-resistant hospital pathogens
September 21, 2018 - Researchers simulate how different breast tissues respond to heat from MRIs
September 21, 2018 - Despite red flags at surgery centers, overseers award gold seals
September 21, 2018 - Zapping Airway Nerves May Help COPD Patients Breathe
September 21, 2018 - Researchers find answers as to why some people are at risk of gout
September 21, 2018 - Stars of Stanford Medicine: Genetic counseling and compassion
September 21, 2018 - Researchers use reinforcement learning to train gliders to soar like birds
September 21, 2018 - New federally-funded research project could lead to treatments that extend human lifespan
September 21, 2018 - Health insurance ads have shifted over time due to health plans offered via ACA
September 21, 2018 - Use of transcranial electrical stimulation to bolster creativity has far-reaching implications
September 21, 2018 - Scientists find way to boost efficacy of powerful antimalarial drug with anti-cancer medicines
September 21, 2018 - Weighing the risks and benefits of drug tapering—two patients, two perspectives
September 21, 2018 - The “exposome” revealed: a barrage of bacteria, chemicals, microscopic animals and more
September 21, 2018 - Top three immune boosting recommendations to ward off freshers’ flu
September 21, 2018 - Young children’s oral microbiota could serve as early indicator for obesity
September 21, 2018 - Older individuals with multiple sclerosis report higher quality of life than younger counterparts
September 21, 2018 - LineaRx signs agreement with Takis/Evvivax to develop linear-DNA based anti-cancer vaccines
September 21, 2018 - AbbVie Presents Upadacitinib Longer-Term (32-Week) and Patient-Reported Outcomes Data from Phase 2b Atopic Dermatitis Study at 27th European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) Congress
Scientists find significant amounts of toxic metals in e-cigarette vapors

Scientists find significant amounts of toxic metals in e-cigarette vapors

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Significant amounts of toxic metals, including lead, leak from some e-cigarette heating coils and are present in the aerosols inhaled by users, according to a study from scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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. They found that significant numbers of the devices generated aerosols with potentially unsafe levels of lead, chromium, manganese and/or nickel. Chronic inhalation of these metals has been linked to lung, liver, immune, cardiovascular and brain damage, and even cancers.

The Food and Drug Administration has the authority to regulate e-cigarettes but is still considering how to do so. The finding that e-cigarettes expose users–known as vapers–to what may be harmful levels of toxic metals could make this issue a focus of future FDA rules.

“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,” says study senior author Ana María Rule, PhD, MHS, an assistant scientist in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health and Engineering.

E-cigarettes typically use a battery-supplied electric current that passes through a metal coil to heat nicotine-containing “e-liquids,” creating an aerosol–a mix including vaporized e-liquid and tiny liquid droplets. Vaping, the practice of inhaling this aerosol as if it were cigarette smoke, is now popular especially among teens, young adults and former smokers. A 2017 survey of 8th-, 10th- and 12th-grade students in public and private schools, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, found that about one in six had used e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days.

Vaping is popular in part because it provides the nicotine “hit” and the look and feel of tobacco-smoking but without smoking’s extreme health risks. Evidence that vaping isn’t entirely safe continues to accumulate, however. Recent studies have found that e-cigarette liquids contain flavorings and other chemicals that harm cells in standard toxicology tests. Other studies, including one last year from Rule’s group, have detected significant levels of toxic metals in e-liquids exposed to the e-cigarette heating coil.

For the new study, Rule and her colleagues, including lead author Pablo Olmedo, PhD, who was a postdoctoral researcher at the Bloomberg School at the time of his work on the study, recruited 56 daily e-cigarette users from vaping conventions and e-cigarette shops around Baltimore during the fall of 2015. Working with participants’ devices, which they brought to the researchers’ lab at the Bloomberg School, the scientists tested for the presence of 15 metals in the e-liquids in the vapers’ refilling dispensers, the e-liquids in their coil-containing e-cigarette tanks and in the generated aerosols.

Consistent with prior studies, they found minimal amounts of metals in the e-liquids within refilling dispensers, but much larger amounts of some metals in the e-liquids that had been exposed to the heating coils within e-cigarette tanks. The difference indicated that the metals almost certainly had come from the coils. Most importantly, the scientists showed that the metal contamination carried over to the aerosols produced by heating the e-liquids.

Of the metals significantly present in the aerosols, lead, chromium, nickel and manganese were the ones of most concern, as all are toxic when inhaled. The median lead concentration in the aerosols, for example, was about 15 μg/kg, or more than 25 times greater than the median level in the refill dispensers. Almost 50 percent of aerosol samples had lead concentrations higher than health-based limits defined by the Environmental Protection Agency. Similarly, median aerosol concentrations of nickel, chromium and manganese approached or exceeded safe limits.

“These were median levels only,” Rule says. “The actual levels of these metals varied greatly from sample to sample, and often were much higher than safe limits.”

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. Precisely how metals get from the coil into the surrounding e-liquid is another mystery. “We don’t know yet whether metals are chemically leaching from the coil or vaporizing when it’s heated,” Rule says. In an earlier study of the 56 vapers, led by Angela Aherrera, MPH, a DrPH student at the Bloomberg School, the levels of nickel and chromium in urine and saliva were related to those measured in the aerosol, confirming that e-cigarette users are exposed to these metals.

The researchers did observe, however, that aerosol metal concentrations tended to be higher for e-cigarettes with more frequently changed coils–suggesting that fresher coils give off metals more readily.

The researchers also detected significant levels of arsenic, a metal-like element that can be highly toxic, in refill e-liquid and in the corresponding tank e-liquid and aerosol samples from 10 of the 56 vapers. How the arsenic got into these e-liquids is yet another mystery–and another potential focus for regulators.

Rule and her team are now planning further studies of vaping and metal exposures, with particular attention to their impacts on people. “We’ve established with this study that there are exposures to these metals, which is the first step, but we need also to determine the actual health effects,” she says.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles