Increased risks of heavy metal contamination among young vapers, study reveals

Increased risks of heavy metal contamination among young vapers, study reveals

A recent study led by Dr. Hongying Daisy Dai of the University of Nebraska Medical Center and published in the journal "Tobacco Control" revealed concerning information regarding adolescent e-cigarette users. The analysis showed that urine levels of heavy metals, such as cadmium, lead and uranium, varied significantly depending on the frequency and type of flavor used in e-cigarettes.

Research indicates that teens who vape intermittently have 40% higher urine lead levels compared to those who vape occasionally. Those who use these devices more frequently show levels 30% higher. Additionally, those who prefer sweet flavors have higher levels of uranium in their urine compared to those who opt for menthol or mint flavors.

Although e-cigarette use among adolescents has decreased slightly, from 14,1% in 2022 to 10% in 2023, it remains a major public health concern and the most popular form of tobacco use among adolescents. youth since 2014. In response, the FDA has authorized only 23 tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products, with other flavors largely restricted in an effort to reduce the appeal of these products to youth.

The study findings highlight the risks associated with exposure to heavy metals, even at low doses, which can significantly affect cardiovascular, renal, cognitive and psychiatric functions. This poses a particular risk for young people, in whom brain and organ development is still ongoing.

But the authors believe that the presence of metals in the participants' urine could be linked to the way e-cigarettes work.

“E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that generate aerosols by heating a liquid solution using a metal coil,” says Dai. “This heating process could result in the release of metal particles into the liquid inhaled by e-cigarette users.

Adolescents prefer sweet flavors over others because the former can suppress the harsh effects of nicotine and enhance its rewarding effects, Dai said. But knowing why this preference led to greater exposure to uranium requires further research. A 2021 study, however, found that ethyl maltol, an artificial sweetener used in some vaping liquids that tastes like cotton candy, can help transport heavy metals to cells and, in the presence of copper , could lead to the death of the cells lining the lungs.

And “given that exposure to heavy metals depends primarily on the type of device used,” Shahab said, “future studies should examine whether there are significant differences between different types of e-cigarettes in order to inform regulators, for example, to reduce the use of devices that expose users to more heavy metals.”

Dai and co-authors' analysis comes from the PATH Youth Study, which collected biological samples from 200 adolescents between December 2018 and November 2019. Although the study is observational and cannot establish a direct causal link , it offers crucial insight into the potential implications of youth use of e-cigarettes.

This study highlights the need for increased monitoring of metal exposure among e-cigarette users and reminds us that these devices are not free of risks, especially if they are misused (excessive power vaping), or powered by E-liquids whose healthiness does not correspond to standards such as those in France and Europe.

photo credit: https://www.knoxpipesmokers.org/
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Editor and correspondent Switzerland. Vapoteuse for many years, I take care mainly of Swiss news.