So what’s in your e-cigarette? If you talk to many youth, they will tell you water vapor and flavoring, but beyond that, many do not have a clue. A study on the liquids in first generation electronic cigarettes found users were puffing away on more than they thought, including “high levels of toxic metals in the liquid that creates the aerosol.”
The first generation e-cig models, which were referred to as “cigalikes,” looked like cigarettes, and consisted of three parts: a battery, an atomizer and a cartridge that holds the e-liquid. While some cigalikes were a single unit that is discarded when the e-liquid was expended or the battery was depleted, others could be rechargeable with a replaceable e-liquid cartridge. The batteries were small and the voltage could not be adjusted.
The study used five e-cigarette brands and checked for cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese and nickel. Cadmium is been shown to reduce bone density, cause kidney issues, and has been linked to cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, rectum, kidney and lung. Chromium causes DNA-damage, and can cause issues with the respiratory tract including ulceration, chronic rhinistis and pharyngitis, impaired lung function and emphysema. Lead accumulation may be responsible for hypertension and peripheral arterial diseases and cataracts. Manganese is a potent neurotoxin. And nickel has been shown to cause a number of different forms of cancer, especially to the respiratory tract.
Although “levels varied by brand,” all five e-cigarette brands contained the heavy metals in different concentrations. Researchers believe the coil that heats the liquid is the “main source of the metals.” It should be noted the metals “can be toxic or carcinogenic (cancer-causing) when inhaled.” Researchers suggest “regulators might want to look into an alternative materials for e-cigarette heating coils.”
While the study was focused on first-generation devices, newer devices allow the user to use larger coils and adjust the wattage and voltage to higher heat levels to produce massive vapor clouds. Does this mean newer e-cigarette devices could be emitting greater levels of metals? It will be interesting to learn of newer studies.