This week researchers at the University of California San Francisco report a first case of “Cobalt Lung”, or hard metal pneumoconiosis, in a woman who vaped a marijuana pen for 6 months.
The 49 year-old retired dog trainer had suffered from coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath but did not have a previous industrial profession in which she could have been exposed to “cobalt dust.” When pathology of her lung tissue revealed giant white blood cells and scar tissue, they looked to the vapor she inhaled and found toxic metals including cobalt, along with lead, manganese, aluminum and nickel.
Published in the European Respiratory Journal, study authors suggest the damage from the inhaled metals may be “permanent.”
Last year a study revealed that toxic levels of lead and other metals may leak from the heating coil element into the vapor inhaled during e-cig use.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found these metals to include:
We’ve known for some time that vaping fluid could contain chemicals that turn toxic once heated, but this study shed light on e-cig metal components causing metal leakage to the vapor making contact with delicate respiratory epithelium (lining).
Reported by Forbes, Rich Able, a medical device marketing consultant, stated the following, “the FDA does not currently test any of the most popular vaping and e-cigarette instruments being manufactured at unregulated factories in Asia that source low-grade parts, batteries, and materials for the production of these devices,” suggesting that “the metal and parts composition of these devices must be stringently tested for toxic analytes and corrosive compounds.”
These chemicals may act as neurotoxins, affecting our nervous system, cause tissue necrosis (cell death) and even multi-organ failure. Moreover they can affect how our immune system reacts to other chemicals as well as foreign pathogens, affecting our ability to fight other diseases.
Although studies have suggested e-cig vapor to be safer than tobacco smoke, not enough research has been done, in the relatively few years vaping has been around, looking at how heat-transformed chemicals and leaked metals affect our breathing, lungs and other organs once absorbed into the body.
Vaping Creates New Dangerous Chemicals That Become Inhaled
If you remember back in chemistry class, many reactions may transfer heat, or create heat when they combust. Well the latest study on vaping finds various flavorings in e-cigs, when heated by the heating element, convert to a chemical called acetal.
Yale University Researchers found 2/3 of the time the acetal makes it into the vapor one breaths when they vape.
For years we’ve been trying to warn vapers that the e-cig liquid is not the final product as it can be completely transformed with heat.
Flavors such as “Crème Brulée,” “Fruit Medley,” and “Cool Cucumber” were evaluated for their acetal production. Vanillin, used in flavoring to make vanilla flavor, has been found to irritate lung linings, and may be one of the biggest culprits when vaping.
According to the National Institutes of Health/National Library of Medicine Database, they report the following in regards to risk factors:
Reported Fatal Dose:
3= MODERATELY TOXIC: PROBABLE ORAL LETHAL DOSE (HUMAN) 0.5-5 G/KG, BETWEEN 1 OZ & 1 PINT (OR 1 LB) FOR 70 KG PERSON (150 LB).
[Gosselin, R.E., R.P. Smith, H.C. Hodge. Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products. 5th ed. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1984., p. II-183] **PEER REVIEWED**
Now this would be a large amount, but any amount to me is interfering with the one job lungs are designed to do….oxygenate one’s blood.
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.