Post featured image

Metals inhaled from vaping are not a health risk

Posted on November 3, 2018


The daily exposure to metals from vaping are below established safety limits with normal use and are of minor health concern, according to a recently published study by leading researchers Konstantinos Farsalinos and Brad Rodu in Inhalation Toxicology.

Vaporisers use heating coils made of metals such as titanium, nickel, kanthal (iron-chromium-aluminium), nichrome (nickel-chromium with trace iron, copper, titanium, aluminum and others) and stainless steel. When the coil is heated, some metal is released into the surrounding e-liquid and then into the aerosol.

Assessing the risk from exposure to metals

Legitimate concerns have been raised about inhaled metals as some metals are carcinogenic (causing cancer) and are toxic to the body above a certain dose. However, some studies have used incorrect assessment methods and the risk has been exaggerated.

When assessing the risk, what is important is the daily dose of the chemical inhaled by the user and how that compares to recognised daily safety limits.

In this latest analysis, Dr Farsalinos used data from a previous study by Olmedo of 56 modern tank-style vaporisers. Dr Farsalinos compared the total daily amount of each metal inhaled with established, relevant safety limits for each metal. The safety limits were defined by the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Results

The analysis found that with normal use, the daily dose of metals inhaled from second generation devices was below the daily safety limits for all metals.

In the case of nickel, extremely heavy users could exceed the safety limit. However for all other metals, it was virtually impossible to exceed safety limits.

The authors of the Olmedo study had claimed that the metals were released at unsafe levels.  However, Dr Farsalinos explained that the study used the wrong methodology for calculating risk, 'The authors once again confuse themselves and everyone else by using environmental safety limits related to exposure with every single breath, and apply them to vaping. However, humans take more than 17,000 (thousand) breaths per day but only 400-600 puffs per day from an e-cigarette'

The results are similar to a 2015 study by Dr Farsalinos which assessed the risk from metal particles released in two studies of first generation vaporisers. That analysis found that 'Overall metal emissions were very low and below safety limits for inhalational medications and occupational setting limits'.

The dose makes the poison

The mere presence of a chemical is meaningless without a risk assessment. Trace metals are present everywhere in the environment, including in the air, water, food, dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals, even nicotine inhalers, and are of no concern.

It is likely that metal exposure from vaping will reduce over time as the technology and manufacturing and products used are improved.

But for now, the bottom line is that trace levels of metals released by vaping and are not a health risk

However, vapers can reduce their risk by avoiding high volumes of inhaled vapour. This is a consideration for users who sub-ohm, ie using large volumes of e-liquid with  low nicotine concentration and  low power devices to make large clouds. Using an e-liquid with a higher concentration of nicotine can help to reduce vapour production and reduce the inhaled chemicals.

Overall, vaping does have a low level of risk, but is far safer than smoking. Regular vapers are advised to quit if possible to eliminate any harm, unless there is a risk of going back to smoking.

Posted by Colin Mendelsohn, colin@athra.org.au


Leave a Reply to Don Juan Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

9 Replies to “Metals inhaled from vaping are not a health risk”

Karsten Sass

K. I want more facts backed by numbers and actual statistical findings found during the tests this man did. When you just use very vague notions like "daily safety limits" or "normal use" but do not explain what you mean by those terms or give information like statistics about those terms, or hell, even a definition. I cannot trust the entire page since all I have now is your word that those phrases are ok. Please Please if you are to make another page, please, ad more actual data from the findings and give better definitions for those of us who may not understand.

Colin

Hi Karsten, The abstract for the article is available here
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08958378.2018.1523262?scroll=top&needAccess=true
If you would like a copy of the full study, please email us and we will send it to you. Email colin@athra.org.au

Oleg Gorya

Hey, I have a question related to this topic, though a bit of a different idea. Most eliquids contain additives, and recently, organic acid neutralized nicotine eliquids (nicotine salts) have started to become a big trend. These acids include benzoic, citric, lactic, malic, tartaric and the like. There acids have been shown to increase oxidation of metals at elevated temperatures such as 316L stainless (here is an article discussing how metals degrade in the presence of acids: https://www.parrinst.com/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2011/07/Parr_Stainless-Steels-Corrosion-Info.pdf)

My question is; should people be concerned over the use of these additives? there are SALTS of nicotine as well, so they are buffered solutions. Though I figure coils would degrade faster and so release more metal nanoparticles. I am personally concerned, especially with nickel as this metal is already quite nasty.

Oleg Gorya

Sorry, I meant to reference this one: Corrosion Resistance of Nickel-Containing Alloys in Organic Acids And Related Compounds https://nickelinstitute.org/media/1658/corrosionresistanceofnickel_containingalloysinorganicacidsandrelatedcompounds_1285_.pdf

Though the above mentioned source does show some good data as well.

Don Juan

Haha they said here is your facts.

Yasser

If the metal amounts detected per breath are above safety limits, then there are concerns and you can't underscore the safety impact by saying these limits are safe on a daily dose basis. If something is poisoning the body on a breath basis, why put it in your body risking what it can do to your body. Everyone reacts differently to the same amount of these metals and even small trace amounts can have serious impact for some people.

Joe

I cannot believe how hard they are coming after vapers. Bottom line is that vaping is far safer than smoking. A lot of vapers, are former smokers, and by vaping, are causing a significantly less amount of damage to their bodies. It is because of under age vapers that are causing all the problems. Instead of making vaping products illegal to be shipped, they should require all vape product websites to get a photo ID of all customers that purchase through their websites. Some sites actually already do this.

April

What if you have a nickel allergy?

Liah

That’s relieving. I’ve been vaping for a couple years on and off as I try and quit cigarettes but now I vape everyday. My boyfriend told me that the metal in the vape is really dangerous so I figured I’d do some research. Obviously vaping probably isn’t totally safe but at least this isn’t a problem. It’s more the addiction factor that I’m worried about as I’ll wake up in the middle of the night specifically wanting to vape.

Social media

Go to Top