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We are no longer shipping via USPS due to the

PACT Act. We are transitioning to regional carriers

and shipping to certain zip codes will be affected.

Please check back soon if we can't currently ship to you!

Are There Toxic Metals In E-Cigarette Vapor?

Are There Toxic Metals In E-Cigarette Vapor?

Are There Toxic Metals In E-Cigarette Vapor?

Along with an abundance of vaping success stories and positive findings, there also exist plenty of studies that cause concern over the safety of vaping - some are farcial, but others deserve serious consideration. The latest study making the negative-news rounds suggests that there are toxic metals found in e-cigarette vapor. This is based on a press release from the University of Southern California, which conducted a study that compared the chemical makeup of e-cigarette clouds to the smoke from combustible cigarettes.

The study offers some troubling findings. It determined that while e-cigarette vapor doesn't appear to contain any of the dangerous hydrocarbon found in combustible cigarettes, there were detectable toxic metal emissions including chromium, nickel, lead, and zinc. Exposure to these metals has been linked to brain and heart damage.

There are, however, some flaws with the study that may have led to more sensational results than one would expect. We'll visit those in a bit.

The Study

Researchers conducted both indoor and outdoor tests of expelled vapor and tobacco smoke, measuring the chemical makeup of each. They found that the metals chromium and nickel were present at a higher level in vapor than in smoke, that zinc levels in smoke and vapor were comparable, and that lead, while present at a much lower level in vapor than cigarette smoke, was still detectable.

Un-vaporized e-liquid was also tested, and the metals found in the expelled vapor were not a component of the liquid. This led testers to believe that the expelled metals were coming from the vaping hardware such as the heating coil, rather than from the rather innocuous liquid itself.

There are problems with the research, however. First, the only device used in the study was a dated eGo-style "pen" device - these are rarely used by modern vapers and utilize both wicking material and coil types that vary dramatically from modern mainstream devices. This significantly limits the usefulness of data drawn from such devices.

Second, it's unclear whether human study participants or a robotic "smoking machine" was exhaling the tested vapor. In the past, such devices have been used to dramatically overheat vapor to the point where the coil operates at a temperature beyond safety recommendations, or even to the point where wicking material is burned, creating actual smoke rather than simple vapor. If these conditions were to occur with a human, the "vapor" would immediately become so unpleasant in taste that vaping would cease and hardware would be replaced. A robot, however, wouldn't notice the difference and, either through intentional tampering or a lack of understanding about how humans use vapor devices, researchers could produce findings that aren't meaningful to actual vapers.

Scientist Response

Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, who has extensively researched smoking, tobacco harm, and e-cigarettes, has expressed doubt about the findings of the study. He looked, in particular at the claim that these toxins leads to heart and brain damage.

“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,” Dr. Farsalinos said.

The doctor found that the level of metals actually found in the body was so low that in some cases you would have to vape more than 100ml of vape juice a day in order for the activity to be considered dangerous according to limits set by the US Food and Drugs Administration.


Large segments of the scientific community, particularly in the United States, have long been at odds with vaping, and have entered into research with the predetermined conclusion that vapor products are a net negative for society. While this attitude is beginning to change as competing research from Europe and beyond debunks this theory and illustrates the effectiveness of vaping in limiting the harm to current smokers, most research still needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

E-cigarettes are not perfectly safe, and they likely never will be as benign as choosing not to consume any nicotine-containing product. Studies need to be more transparent in their methodology, and acknowledge the ways that actual vapers use their devices in a day-to-day setting. It's helpful to see studies like this one comparing vapor products to tobacco cigarettes rather than to the habits of non-smokers, but the vaping community still expects more progress before faith can be placed in many of these negative scientific findings.

If there are problems with today's vapor devices or in the way that they're commonly used, the community needs to know about them. But we'd like to see these problems as a challenge to make next-generation devices even better and safer, rather than as an argument against the existence of a class of product that's helped millions of people quit smoking.