You often hear people say that vaping is safer than smoking. After all, it’s not tobacco, and we know the damage that tobacco can do. Vaping? Not so much…yet.
One thing we do know is that when you inhale from an e-cigarette, you’re taking in a whole lot more than chemically flavored vapor. You’re taking in toxic heavy metals emitted by the device itself: lead, nickel, chromium, and more.
Now, new research in Environmental Health Perspectives confirms earlier findings.
For the study, 56 daily vapers had their e-cig devices tested in a lab. Samples were taken from the refilling dispenser, aerosol, and remaining e-liquid in the tank.
Arsenic was detected in 10.7% of dispenser samples (median 26.7 μg/kg) and these concentrations were similar in aerosol and tank samples. Aerosol mass concentrations (mg/m3) for the detected metals spanned several orders of magnitude and exceeded current health-based limits in close to 50% or more of the samples for Cr, Mn, Ni, and Pb [chromium, manganese, nickel, and lead].
Most likely, this is due to the heating coil aiding the transfer of metals from the device to the e-liquid and aerosol that’s inhaled by the user, “although we cannot rule out that other parts of the device also contribute,” the authors noted. As Business Insider reported,
In comparing the levels of lead in the e-cig liquids before being heated against those in the heated liquids and those in the aerosols, the scientists found concentrations that were 25 times greater in the aerosols.
“The actual levels of these metals varied greatly from sample to sample, and often were much higher than safe limits,” [lead author Ana Maria] Rule said.
The toxic effects of these metals, even though they do not have any biological role, remain present in some or the other form harmful for the human body and its proper functioning. They sometimes act as a pseudo element of the body while at certain times they may even interfere with metabolic processes. Few metals, such as aluminium, can be removed through elimination activities, while some metals get accumulated in the body and food chain, exhibiting a chronic nature. Various public health measures have been undertaken to control, prevent and treat metal toxicity occurring at various levels, such as occupational exposure, accidents and environmental factors. Metal toxicity depends upon the absorbed dose, the route of exposure and duration of exposure, i.e. acute or chronic. This can lead to various disorders and can also result in excessive damage due to oxidative stress induced by free radical formation.
The current study does have some limitations, including the fact that they tested only e-cigarettes, not other vaping devices. Even so, you still have the problem of synthetic chemicals in the e-liquid. Propylene glycol, for instance, breaks down into formaldehyde. Diacetyl, found in artificial and natural flavorings, has been associated with serious lung problems.
And just this week, new research in Pediatrics found that, like smoking cigarettes, vaping exposes young adults to an array of cancer-causing chemicals.
Although e-cigarette vapor may be less dangerous than combustible cigarettes, with lower overall exposure to VOC [volatile organic compound] toxicants, with our findings, we challenge the idea that e-cigarette vapor is safe. Many of the VOCs we identified among e-cigarette users are carcinogenic, including propylene oxide, acrylamide, acrylonitrile, and crotonaldehyde. With few exceptions, these toxicants were present whether the product contained nicotine or flavorings.
Heavy metals detox generally takes more than a simple cleanse you might read about online or taking more glutathione, cilantro, or other natural detoxing compound. Chelation therapy may be needed to help your body clear these toxic substances and return to optimal functioning. Nutritional support is also needed; likewise, addressing the chronic inflammation and other damage done by heavy metals. Such supportive therapies aim to help restore your body’s resilience and proper function.
In our view, that’s a whole lot cooler than vaping. By far.