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Latest Studies Link E-Cigarette Vaping to Heavy Metal Lung Disease

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A recent study has linked e-cigarette vaping to heavy metal lung disease, and an e-cigarette user developed lung scarring usually found in metal workers

Santa Clara, CARecent studies are ramping up the dangers of vaping e-cigarettes. For more than five years, researchers have found that e-cigarette vaping causes physical harm, including chemical burns to lung tissue, toxic metal exposure and vitamin E oil that clogs lungs--all causing serious damage.

Now a study shows that vaping e-cigarettes can lead to hard metal lung disease typically found in workers exposed to hard metals, including cobalt.
 

Recent E-cigarette Studies


A report published by the European Respiratory Journal in early December warns against vaping after researchers studying a 49-year-old California woman with a rare lung disease called giant cell interstitial pneumonia say it was probably caused by vaping. The patient had symptoms similar to more than 2,000 vaping illnesses in the U.S., including shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing. Doctors said the woman's lung damage is likely permanent although her lung function may improve.

Also published this month, a study in the  American Journal of Preventive Medicine focused on the long-term health effects of electronic cigarettes. Researchers have linked the devices to an increased risk of chronic lung diseases.
 

Reports Spanning Five Years


Just less than two years ago, the Guardian reported, Public Health England (PHE) said that electronic cigarettes should be in hospital shops (!) to encourage smokers to wean themselves off their habit. PHE in 2015 reported that vaping was 95 percent safer than smoking tobacco. E-cigarettes were believed by health officials in the U.S and Canada as a slightly healthier alternative to puffing on tobacco.

But not everyone was convinced. 
  • In 2016 researchers published a study in Environmental Research that found e-cigarette use as a relevant source of toxic metal exposure and that E-cigarette heating coils are commonly made of Ni and Cr, known carcinogens. 
  • Also in 2016, investigators determined e-cigarette users were 30 percent more likely to have developed a chronic lung disease, including asthma, bronchitis and emphysema, than non-users.
  • In February 2018 Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analyzed e-cigarette vaporizers and found “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.”
  • In September 2019, a Scientific Reports study found dangerous heavy metals, such as lead and copper, in some types of e-cigarette vapors. Researchers concluded that concentration of elements in these tank-style e-cigs  “will be helpful to regulatory agencies, healthcare providers, and consumers, and will help understand the health effects.” (Forbes reported that the use of Tank-style e-cigs, as opposed to the thinner and disposable styles, generate aerosol vapors using large capacity vape-fluid tanks and powerful batteries.) The study determined that vaping power may produce an unhealthy byproduct aside from the possible unhealthiness already suspected of some e-cigs – a host of heavy metals with links to cancer, lung disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and other maladies. Researchers found 11 metals linked to components of the e-cigs: aluminum, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, lead, magnesium, nickel, silicon, tin, and zinc.

E-Cigarettes, Vaping and the FDA


Meanwhile, the FDA has been on the fence. In May 2016 the agency announced that vaping would be regulated like regular cigarettes. “It will now start regulating e-cigarette products, requiring age limits, clearer product labels, and health warnings going forward,” reported Science Alert. The FDA announced that “actions being taken today will help the FDA prevent misleading claims by tobacco product manufacturers, evaluate the ingredients of tobacco products and how they are made, as well as communicate their potential risks… We have more to do to help protect Americans from the dangers of tobacco and nicotine, especially our youth.” 

So one rule was to restrict youth access: no vaping products were to be sold to persons under the age of 18.  Since when did that stop a 16-year-old from buying a product from their big brother or sister?

The FDA goes on: “ manufacturers will continue selling their products for up to two years while they submit – and an additional year while the FDA reviews – a new tobacco product application. The FDA will issue an order granting marketing authorization where appropriate; otherwise, the product will face FDA enforcement.” That announcement was released in May, 2016. Perhaps the FDA should consider removing vaping products from the market altogether…
 

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