Used vapes confiscated from school pupils contain high levels of lead, nickel, and chromium, BBC News has found.
The Inter Scientific laboratory in Liverpool, which works with vape manufacturers to ensure regulatory standards are met, analyzed 18 vapes that were gathered from Baxter College in Kidderminster. Most were illegal and had not gone through any kind of testing before being sold in the UK.
The results showed children using them could be inhaling more than twice the daily safe amount of lead and nine times the safe amount of nickel. Some vapes also contained harmful chemicals, like those in cigarette smoke.
Lab co-founder David Lawson said: “In 15 years of testing, I have never seen lead in a device. None of these should be on the market – they break all the rules on permitted levels of metal. They are the worst set of results I’ve ever seen.”
The metals, including lead, nickel, and chromium, were in the e-liquid itself rather than just coming from the heating element, as initially believed. Carbonyls were found at 10 times the level in legal vapes. Some even had more than cigarettes.
Manufacturers have to follow regulations on ingredients, packaging, and marketing. All e-cigarettes and e-liquids must be registered with the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). However, the agency is not required to check the claims made in paperwork, and it has no power to investigate unregistered products.
MHRA Head of E-cigarettes Craig Copland said that the results would be reviewed to assess whether the vapes posed a health risk.
The government has allocated £3m to tackle the sale of illegal vapes in England and is calling for evidence to help cut the number of children accessing vapes. University of Nottingham epidemiology professor John Britton, who sits on the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Group, said inhaling metals could be dangerous. He also added that with sustained use, carbonyls are mildly carcinogenic and thus increase the risk of cancer.
It’s alarming to know that high levels of lead and nickel have been found in illegal vapes confiscated from school pupils, according to a BBC News report. The Inter Scientific laboratory in Liverpool analyzed 18 vapes confiscated at Baxter College in Kidderminster; most were illegal and had not undergone any testing before being sold in the UK market. Results showed that children using them could be inhaling more than twice the daily safe amount of lead and nine times the safe amount of nickel. Carbonyls were detected in the vapes at levels 10 times higher than those found in legal vapes, and some with more than cigarettes. In addition to the harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke, these illegal vapes contain compounds that breakdown when the e-liquid heats up, such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. The government has allocated £3m to tackle the sale of illegal vapes and is calling for evidence to cut the number of children accessing vapes.
Manufacturers must follow regulations stipulated by the Medicine and Healthcare Products regulatory Agency (MHRA) on ingredients, packaging, and marketing, so all e-cigarettes and e-liquids must be registered with them. However, checking paperwork in claims and investigating unregistered products are not included in the MHRA’s policies. It is worth noting that vaping has become part of youth culture for a long time, and more schools are installing sensors in toilets to control vaping among pupils.
Epidemiology professor John Britton, who sits on the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Group, stated that inhaling metals would be dangerous as they trigger blood clotting and exacerbate cardiovascular disease. He also mentioned that carbonyls are mildly carcinogenic and thus increase the risk of cancer with sustained use. Vaping is illegal for under-18s, but a YouGov survey shows that teenagers are experimenting with vaping, with some struggling to give up nicotine altogether.
Overall, the findings are shocking, and consumers are advised to buy vapes from authorized retailers only. This will ensure they are safe and undergo rigorous testing before being sold in the market. As a society, we need to educate young people about the potential risks of vaping and support them in giving up nicotine use.