Metal/Metalloid Levels in Electronic Cigarette Liquids, Aerosols, and Human Biosamples: A Systematic Review
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AuthorZhao, Di; Aravindakshan, Atul; Hilpert, Markus; Olmedo, Pablo; Rule, Ana M.; Navas-Acien, Ana; Aherrera, Angela
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Zhao, D., Aravindakshan, A., Hilpert, M., Olmedo, P., Rule, A. M., Navas-Acien, A., & Aherrera, A. (2020). Metal/Metalloid Levels in Electronic Cigarette Liquids, Aerosols, and Human Biosamples: A Systematic Review. Environmental health perspectives, 128(3), 036001.
SponsorshipThis study was supported by NIEHS/FDA grants R21ES029777 and R01ES030025, NIEHS grant P30ES009089, and a Johns Hopkins University Technology Transfer Seed Award. D. Z. was supported by the China Scholarship Council (201706190116). A. A. was supported by a grant from the MD Cigarette Restitution Fund (grantPHPA-G2034).
Background: Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have become popular, in part because they are perceived as a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes. An increasing number of studies, however, have found toxic metals/metalloids in e-cigarette emissions. Results: We identified 24 studies on metals/metalloids in e-liquid, e-cigarette aerosols, and human biosamples of e-cigarette users. Metal/metalloid levels, including aluminum, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, iron, lead, manganese, nickel, selenium, tin, and zinc, were present in e-cigarette samples in the studies reviewed. Twelve studies reported metal/metalloid levels in e-liquids (bottles, cartridges, open wick, and tank), 12 studies reported metal/metalloid levels in e-cigarette aerosols (from cig-a-like and tank devices), and 4 studies reported metal/metalloid levels in human biosamples (urine, saliva, serum, and blood) of e-cigarette users. Metal/metalloid levels showed substantial heterogeneity depending on sample type, source of e-liquid, and device type. Metal/metalloid levels in e-liquid from cartridges or tank/open wicks were higher than those from bottles, possibly due to coil contact. Most metal/metalloid levels found in biosamples of e-cigarette users were similar or higher than levels found in biosamples of conventional cigarette users, and even higher than those found in biosamples of cigar users. Conclusion: E-cigarettes are a potential source of exposure to metals/metalloids. Differences in collection methods and puffing regimes likely contribute to the variability in metal/metalloid levels across studies, making comparison across studies difficult. Standardized protocols for the quantification of metal/metalloid levels from e-cigarette samples are needed.