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Heavy Metal

Anti-vape campaigners have frequently touted a supposed risk of toxic heavy metals in vape but new research shows that it doesn’t exist

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Studies like the 2018 one from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health claimed they found substantial levels of toxic heavy metals in eliquid and vapour. The results have then been used as part of overexcited lectures to the media by the likes of the lamentable Bonnie Halpern-Felsher. A study from researchers at West Virginia University pours cold water over the argument by finding that vapers’ blood and urine matches those who neither vape or smoke.

In 2018, Ana María Rule worried journalists that the study she’d been a part of had discovered lead, chromium, manganese, zinc and nickel in vape that had been obtained from unrealistic puffing regime samples.

It’s important for the Food and Drug Administration the e-cigarette companies and vapers themselves to know that these heating coils, as currently made, seem to be leaking toxic metals, which then get into the aerosols that vapers inhale,” she said while warning everyone about the risk of brain damage and cancer.

How odd that anyone working for the “Bloomberg” School of Public Health could have been involved in a paper that is negative about vaping – a piece of research that also managed to find “significant levels of arsenic” in eliquids.

The dopey work was then regurgitated to the media by Stanford University’s Bonnie Halpern-Felsher. On television, she told the interviewer, “lead, cadmium and nickel can be found inside most e-cigarettes.” What Halpern-Felsher decided wasn’t important was to share information comparing measured levels with oral permitted daily exposure levels.

West Virginia University’s Constance Wiener and Ruchi Bhandari have just published results of a study in the Trace Elements journal where, rather than guessing about a potential impact, they measured the levels of heavy metals in the blood and urine of vapers.

Unlike those working to ensure further funding from the billionaire Michael Bloomberg, “the authors do not have financial or other relationships that might lead to a conflict of interest”.

They concluded: “In this study, blood lead levels, and urinary cadmium, barium, and antimony levels were similar between participants who ever-used e-cigarettes and participants who did not, and therefore, e-cigarette use was not a major source of heavy metals. It is important to regularly monitor the patterns of e-cigarette use and other potentially harmful exposures from e- cigarettes. Such surveillance and assessment can provide evidence for public health guidelines and standards for Food and Drug Administration to set regulations.”

They noted “many off-market, black market devices and e-cigarette liquids are available online or through the mail with questionable sourcing. Those e-cigarette liquids can have … unregulated flavoring … and impurities.”

Given the impending PMTA deadline will push most brands out of business, it is vital that the Food and Drug Administration wakes up to the fact it has been lied to by many researchers who have published pseudoscience and sold their souls for funding.

This study demonstrates that current liquids do not contain heavy metals, but who knows what will happen when the FDA drives many vapers to black market sources. Sensible legislation would have prevented this but the FDA will push many people to illicit sources or back to Big Tobacco.


  • Metal Concentrations in e-Cigarette Liquid and Aerosol Samples: The Contribution of Metallic Coils, 2018 – [link]
  • Heavy Metal, POTV – [link]
  • Association of Electronic Cigarette Use with Lead, Cadmium, Barium, and Antimony Body Burden, Wiener and Bhandari, 2020 – [link]

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Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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