The study titled Metal Concentrations in e-Cigarette Liquid and Aerosol Samples: The Contribution of Metallic Coils, was published in Environmental Health Perspectives. The study authors tested liquids in the refilling dispensers, aerosol, and remaining e-liquid in tanks from 56 vapers, and reported potentially unsafe levels of arsenic, chromium, manganese, nickel and lead.
The researchers concluded that these metals could be leaking from the heating coils of e-cigarettes, pointing out that aerosol metal concentrations were highest in devices with more frequently changed coils. The study authors, hailing from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, explained that repeated inhalation of these metals has been linked to a number of cancers and to lung, liver, immune, cardiovascular and brain conditions.
“It’s important for the FDA, the e-cigarette companies and vaper [users] 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,” said study senior author Ana María Rule, from the Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health and Engineering.
The levels of metals measured are below the FDA limits for daily intake
Following the release of the above study, renowned anti-smoking expert Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, a research fellow at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens, and the University of Patras in Greece, was naturally bombarded with questions by many concerned parties.
Farsalinos who has been conducting laboratory and clinical research as lead researcher on e-cigarettes since 2011, posted a response on his facebook page. “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.”
Farsalinos pointed out that unfortunately this is once again a case of misinterpreted data and findings that are taken out of context. “The authors once again confuse themselves and everyone else by using environmental safety limits related to exposure with every single breath, and apply them to vaping. However, humans take more than 17,000 (thousand) breaths per day but only 400-600 puffs per day from an e-cigarette.”
Results taken out of context
Last November, the public health expert had said that unfortunately “the field of e-cigarette research has an unusually high number of studies reporting “strange” (to say the least) results.” He has pointed out on several occasions that researchers should be cautious, look for possible errors and apply findings to the relevant contexts, before publishing results and causing a media sensation that leads to the spread of further inaccurate, hence dangerous, information.