E-Cig Vapor May Be Less Toxic Than Tobacco Smoke
But researcher says the devices should still be regulated
But the e-cig vapor was still unhealthy. Researchers found that it contained levels of "heavy metals," such as chromium and nickel, possibly released by the cartridge that holds a nicotine solution in the e-cig, Saffari said. "In terms of their health effects, some of these metals are extremely toxic even in very low amounts," he added.
Saffari suggested that e-cig manufacturers could limit the heavy metals in vapor by using higher-quality materials for cartridges.
Peter Hajek, a professor of clinical psychology at Barts and The London Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of London, is not worried by the levels of heavy metals in the e-cig vapor.
"The study shows that regarding the most dangerous chemicals released by tobacco smoke, e-cigarette vapor contains none. Other chemicals it does contain are mostly a small fraction of those from cigarettes, and the metal compounds it releases are at levels unlikely to pose a risk," said Hajek, who studies tobacco risks.
"The conclusion should be that e-cig vapor is unlikely to pose any risk to bystanders. This tallies with other studies conducted so far," he noted.
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, said the level of heavy metals and other chemicals in e-cigarette vapor is similar to that of inhalable products other than cigarettes, in particular the FDA-approved Nicorette Inhaler that's used to help people quit smoking.
In the big picture, he said, "this study, as well as hundreds of other studies, provide clear evidence that e-cigarettes are far, far less hazardous than smoking, likely in the range of 98 to 99 percent."
The study was published Aug. 22 in the online edition of the journal Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts.