Study Finds E-Cigarette Devices May Expose Users to Lead and Other Heavy Metals

Feb 23, 2018

A new study from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health has found that a significant number of e-cigarette devices generate 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, as well as cancers.

E-cigarettes contain a nicotine-based liquid that is vaporized and then inhaled. They are a relatively new phenomenon and scientists are still learning about their long-term health effects. Despite the unknown, e-cigarettes are often considered “safer” than regular cigarettes by the general public. Their use has increased 900% among high school students from 2011 to 2015, according to a 2016 report from the Surgeon General and more than 9 million adults vape regularly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

The Food and Drug Administration has the authority to regulate e-cigarettes but is still considering how to do so.

E-cigarette use is more common among youth and young adults than older adults. West Virginia has the second highest rate of regular smoking in the country, but it’s unclear how the state ranks in e-cigarette use.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Marshall Health, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.