Very Metal

Posted 19th May 2015 by Dave Cross
Doctor Konstantinos Farsalinos has looked at the only two studies analysing metal content of vapour emission from electronic cigarettes. The two studies have been misrepresented recently and are being used to justify more stringent legislation. The doctor felt that is was prudent to place these studies in context.

The first study (carried out by Williams, Villarreal, Bozhilov, Lin and Talbot) was completed in 2013. Metal and silicate particles including nanoparticles are present in electronic cigarette cartomizer fluid and aerosol addressed the contents of vapour coming from a cartomiser. The report concluded: “The presence of metal and silicate particles in cartomizer aerosol demonstrates the need for improved quality control in EC design and manufacture and studies on how EC aerosol impacts the health of users and bystanders.”

The second study (by Goniewicz et al) was published in March this year. Levels of selected carcinogens and toxicants in vapour from electronic cigarettes analysed the contents of 12 cigalike brands. They looked specifically “for content of four groups of potentially toxic and carcinogenic compounds: carbonyls, volatile organic compounds, nitrosamines, and heavy metals.”

This later study concluded: “The vapour generated from e-cigarettes contains potentially toxic compounds. However, the levels of potentially toxic compounds in e-cigarette vapour is from 9 to 450-fold lower than those in the smoke from conventional cigarette, and in many cases comparable to the trace amounts present in pharmaceutical preparation. Our findings are support the idea that substituting tobacco cigarettes with electronic cigarettes may substantially reduce exposure to tobacco-specific toxicants.”

Farsalinos’ paper, conducted in conjunction with Voudris and Poulas, is titled Are Metals Emitted from Electronic Cigarettes a Reason for Health Concern? A Risk-Assessment Analysis of Currently Available Literature. In it they state: “the potential health impact of exposure to such metals has not been adequately defined.” They took the raw data from the original papers and extrapolated them against permissible daily exposure limits.

Farsalinos et al concluded: “Based on currently available data, overall exposure to metals from EC use is not expected to be of significant health concern for smokers switching to EC use, but is an unnecessary source of exposure for never-smokers.”


It was also noted within the studies that the levels of trace metals present was equivalent to that found in a Nicorette nicotine replacement therapy inhaler. It should be re-emphasised that the studies only looked at the barely used cartomizer and declining in popularity cigalike. Farsalinos recommend further investigation and we would welcome analysis of popular 2nd and 3rd Generation equipment.


 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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