Study links youth vaping to increased metal exposure, raising public health concerns

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

In a recent study published in BMJ Tob Control, researchers investigated factors associated with urinary biomarkers of metal exposure from e-cigarettes among United States (US) adolescents.

Study: Biomarkers of metal exposure in adolescent ecigarette users: correlations with vaping frequency and flavouring. Image Credit: Yarrrrrbright/Shutterstock.comStudy: Biomarkers of metal exposure in adolescent ecigarette users: correlations with vaping frequency and flavouring. Image Credit: Yarrrrrbright/Shutterstock.com

Background

E-cigarettes have become the predominant route of nicotine intake among US teens, with their use expanding dramatically.

These e-cigarettes are sold in various flavors and include potentially dangerous chemicals, including metals. Metal concentrations in e-cigarette aerosol formulations and liquids are frequent, making youth vaping a grave public health risk.

Metals ingested via tobacco and e-cigarette usage can cause systemic damage, especially throughout childhood and adolescence.

Chronic low-level lead exposure has a considerable impact on cardiovascular and cognitive consequences. Cadmium exposure raises the incidence of osteoporosis and serves as a significant carcinogen via a variety of biochemical processes.

Chronic low-level lead exposure hurts the cardiovascular and renal systems, cognitive and mental development, and both sexes' fertility. Uranium exposure can induce local cytotoxic effects, and renal tubular toxicity is particularly harmful.

About the study

In the present study, researchers analyzed metal exposure among teenage e-cigarette users, investigating correlations between metal concentrations and vaping frequency and flavor.

The researchers analyzed the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study's fifth wave data, which was conducted between December 2018 and November 2019, and included 200 United States adolescents aged between 13 and 17 years.

Using mass spectrometry, they analyzed urinary exposure to uranium, cadmium, and lead by vaping frequency and flavor type. The detection limits for uranium, lead, and cadmium were 0.0024 µg/L, 0.022 µg/L, and 0.055 µg/L, respectively.

The team classified participants reporting e-cigarette use ≥1.0 days in the previous month as current e-cigarette users. They divided vaping frequencies as frequent (>20 days), intermittent (six to <20 days), and occasional (one to five days) within the previous month, and flavor types as mint/menthol, sweet (such as candy, chocolate, and desserts), and fruit.

They collected urinary samples from the fourth PATH wave participants, excluding those under nicotine replacement treatment in the previous three days and those with creatinine values ≤10.0 mg/dL or above 370 mg/dL.

The researchers also excluded individuals using other forms of tobacco (i.e., cigars, cigarettes, hookah, pipe, bidi, smokeless tobacco, or kretek), e-cigarette non-users, and users of e-cigarettes not containing nicotine.

They used multivariate linear regressions and geometric mean ratios (GMR) for analysis, adjusted for second-hand tobacco exposure, e-cigarette device type, age, sex, race, ethnicity, and household income.

Results

Among the participants (median age, 16 years, 63% female), 65 used occasionally, 45 used intermittently, and 81 used frequently.

The mean number of daily puffs showed exponential increases in vaping frequencies (0.90 puffs, 7.90 puffs, and 27 puffs for occasional use, intermittent use, and frequent use, respectively). The researchers noted that 33% preferred mint/menthol, 50% fruity, and 15% preferred sweet-based flavors.

Intermittent (0.2 ng/mg of creatinine) users and frequent e-cigarette users (0.2 ng/mg of creatinine) showed higher urinary lead concentrations compared to those who used e-cigarettes occasionally (0.2 ng/mg of creatinine).

Intermittent users showed higher urinary lead concentrations compared to occasional e-cigarette users (GMR, 1.4). Similarly, frequent e-cigarette users also showed higher urine lead levels than occasional users (GMR, 1.3).

Adolescents using e-cigarettes frequently also showed higher urinary uranium concentrations than those using e-cigarettes occasionally (0.0090 ng versus 0.0050 ng per mg of creatinine, GMR, 2.3).

Sweet flavor preferers showed higher uranium concentrations than those preferring mint/menthol flavors (0.0090 ng versus 0.0050 ng per mg of creatinine, GMR 1.9).

Conclusions

The study findings showed that early-life vaping increases the chance of metal exposure, which may damage organ development and alter brain function. Frequent and intermittent users reported higher lead and uranium levels in their urine compared to occasional users.

Sweet-flavor vapers had nearly double the amount of uranium that menthol or mint users did. The results are concerning since a considerable number of teenage vapers use candy-flavored e-cigarettes, which might reduce the unpleasant effects of nicotine while increasing its rewarding effects, resulting in increased brain cue responsiveness.

The study emphasizes the significance of enacting vaping legislation and developing focused preventative efforts for teenagers.

Future research with bigger sample sizes might consider regional differences and metal concentrations in e-cigarette aerosol forms or e-liquids as contaminants or byproducts.

Additional studies might reveal the particular sources and mechanisms of uranium exposure. Vaping regulations should protect young people from addiction and exposure to metals.

Journal reference:
  • Kochvar A., Hao G., and Dai HD. (2024) Biomarkers of metal exposure in adolescent ecigarette users: correlations with vaping frequency and flavouring. Tob Control Epub ahead of print. doi: 10.1136/tc-2023-058554.

Pooja Toshniwal Paharia

Written by

Pooja Toshniwal Paharia

Pooja Toshniwal Paharia is an oral and maxillofacial physician and radiologist based in Pune, India. Her academic background is in Oral Medicine and Radiology. She has extensive experience in research and evidence-based clinical-radiological diagnosis and management of oral lesions and conditions and associated maxillofacial disorders.

Citations

Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Toshniwal Paharia, Pooja Toshniwal Paharia. (2024, April 29). Study links youth vaping to increased metal exposure, raising public health concerns. News-Medical. Retrieved on June 12, 2024 from https://www.news-medical.net/news/20240429/Study-links-youth-vaping-to-increased-metal-exposure-raising-public-health-concerns.aspx.

  • MLA

    Toshniwal Paharia, Pooja Toshniwal Paharia. "Study links youth vaping to increased metal exposure, raising public health concerns". News-Medical. 12 June 2024. <https://www.news-medical.net/news/20240429/Study-links-youth-vaping-to-increased-metal-exposure-raising-public-health-concerns.aspx>.

  • Chicago

    Toshniwal Paharia, Pooja Toshniwal Paharia. "Study links youth vaping to increased metal exposure, raising public health concerns". News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20240429/Study-links-youth-vaping-to-increased-metal-exposure-raising-public-health-concerns.aspx. (accessed June 12, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Toshniwal Paharia, Pooja Toshniwal Paharia. 2024. Study links youth vaping to increased metal exposure, raising public health concerns. News-Medical, viewed 12 June 2024, https://www.news-medical.net/news/20240429/Study-links-youth-vaping-to-increased-metal-exposure-raising-public-health-concerns.aspx.

Comments

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
Post

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
Vaping poses unexpected risks to eye health, study finds