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Lead and nickel found in illegal vapes

Posted on the 6th June 2023

Vapes Seized Dangerous Chemicals

Vapes confiscated from schoolchildren in England were found to contain high levels of lead, nickel, and chromium.

The items were gathered at a school in Kidderminster and then tested in a laboratory where results showed children could be inhaling more than twice the daily safe amount of lead, and nine times the safe amount of nickel.

Some also contained the same harmful chemicals found in cigarettes.

The Inter Scientific laboratory, in Liverpool, which works with vape manufacturers to ensure regulatory standards are met, analyzed 18 vapes.

Most were illegal and had not gone through any kind of testing before being sold in the UK.

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."

In "highlighter vapes" - designed with bright colours to look like highlighter pens - the amounts of the metals found were:

  • lead - 12 micrograms per gram, 2.4 times the stipulated safe exposure level
  • nickel - 9.6 times safe levels
  • chromium - 6.6 times safe levels

The metals were thought to come from the heating element - but the tests showed they were in the e-liquid itself.

The lab tests also found compounds called carbonyls - which break down, when the e-liquid heats up, into chemicals such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, also found in cigarette smoke - at 10 times the level in legal vapes. Some even had more than cigarettes.

Manufacturers must follow regulations on ingredients, packaging, and marketing - and all e-cigarettes and e-liquids must be registered with the Medicine and Health Care Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

However, the agency is not required to check the claims made in paperwork and has no power to investigate unregistered products.

MHRA head of e-cigarettes Craig Copland said the results would now be reviewed to assess whether the vapes posed a health risk.

High levels of lead exposure in children can affect the central nervous system and brain development, according to the World Health Organization.

Related: Free vape kits given out as part of anti-smoking drive

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