Dr. Dominic Palazzolo: Metallic content of e-cig vapor is ‘negligible’

Public Health agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have often claimed that e-cig vapor is just as toxic as conventional tobacco smoke.  However, when they are asked for supporting documentation to prove these claims, they often state that further research is still needed.  So, a team of scientists led by Dr. Dominic L. Palazzolo from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, decided to conduct their own research.

Outline of the Palazzolo study

Palazzolo and his team decided to measure the levels of at least nine different trace metals in both e-cig vapor and the smoke from conventional tobacco cigarettes.  The metals included Aluminum, Arsenic, Cadmium, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Nickel, Lead, and Zinc.   After conducting an extensive series of laboratory tests, the scientists determined that the levels of each of these trace metals from vaping is essentially “negligible” and pose no threat to public health. 

“The contents of Al, As, Cu, Fe, and Mn on smoke-exposed MCE membranes were also significantly higher (p < 0.05) than their content on aerosol-exposed membranes. The contents per cigarette equivalent of metals in E-liquid before aerosolization were negligible compared to amounts of aerosolized E-liquid, except for Fe (0.002 μg before and 0.001 μg after). Elemental analysis of the core assembly reveals the presence of several of these trace metals, especially Al, Fe, Ni, and Zn.”

The scientists also note that the levels of arsenic fell “below the detection limit” even for the smokers.  The e-cig study entitled Trace Metals Derived from Electronic Cigarette (ECIG) Generated Aerosol: Potential Problem of ECIG Devices That Contain Nickel is published on the Frontiers in Physiology website.

To obtain their research, Palazzolo and his team solicited the help of volunteers from both the vaping and smoking communities.  The vapers were asked to vape the same e-liquid of 7ml nicotine concentrations heated to temperatures of 350 degrees Celsius.  The e-liquid also consisted of 20% Vegetable Glycerin and 80% Propylene Glycol, which is fairly standard.

The smokers were each given Marlboro cigarettes purchased from a local convenience store. Marlboros, by the way, offer approximately 1mg of nicotine per cigarette.   Meanwhile, each different group was given a completely separate room to engage in their related activities so that there would be no cross-contamination.  The smoke and e-cig vapor were measured using a piece of scientific equipment called a Thermo Scientific Hamilton SafeAire II. 

Related Dr. Michael Siegel: CA vaping study shows second-hand vapor is harmless to public health 

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