Lead in Vape Study Flawed Says Doctor

Ecigarette Studies Don’t Replicate Use in the Real World Says Doctor


A recent study which claims significant amounts of lead, along with other toxic metals, is in vapour from ecigarettes, is not representative of how people vape according to an expert doctor.

The story made front page news reporting that researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently tested ecigarette vaporisers from 56 daily vapers, with findings suggesting that many were being exposed to potentially toxic levels of chromium, nickel, and lead.

But Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, Department of Pharmacology at the University of Patras has said the findings don't reflect a vaper's habit and have little context to real-life vaping. The doctor has built a respected reputation replicating ecigarette studies to test their validity. 

The study’s lead author Ana María Rule said: “This is the first paper that actually shows that the concentrations in the aerosol that people are inhaling are actually comparable to limits that are health-based limits.” 

She also added that related levels of nickel and chromium were found in the vapers urine, which confirmed exposure from ecigarettes.

Environmental Safety Limits Aplied to Vaping Tests  

Dr Farsalinos said: “The ‘significant amount’ of metals the authors reported they found were measured in ug/kg. In fact they are so low that for some cases (chromium and lead) I calculated that you need to vape more than 100 ml per day in order to exceed the FDA limits for daily intake from inhalational medications.

“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 ecigarette.”

This last point has often been directed at vaping studies – that the study doesn’t replicate how a vaper actually uses a device in real-life situations.

But Dr Farsalino also said that there should still be further investigation into vaping and ecigarette emissions.

And the Cloudy Society website reported that “the study’s flaws could be compared with those of the ‘popcorn lung’ scare that keeps finding its way back into the news. Sometimes information that sounds intimidating externally is simply the result of a poorly– or disingenuously– framed study.”

Testing for Heavy Metals

The latest research from John Hopkins comes after of a preliminary study, also conducted by John Hopkins researchers, in 2016.  That research had detected elevated levels of nickel and chromium in the urine and saliva of ecigarette users.

High concentrations of these heavy metals have been linked to a number of health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, brain damage, and certain cancers.

Current Tobacco Products Directive, the law under which all UK nicotine containing eliquid is regulated, includes testing for heavy metals in emissions.