New research finds teen vaping linked to toxic lead exposure

A new study led by researchers from the University of Nebraska found disturbingly high levels of lead and uranium in urine samples from teens who frequently vape. This discovery adds to a growing body of research linking vaping to respiratory diseases, brain damage, and heart failure.

“Vaping in early life could increase the risk of exposure to metals, potentially harming brain and organ development. Regulations on vaping should safeguard the youth population against addiction and exposure to metals,” the study published in the journal Tobacco Control reads.

The study’s findings are based on data from 200 teens participating in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Youth Study from December 2018 to November 2019.

Study authors told CNN that the presence of these metals in participants’ samples could be linked to how e-cigarettes work.

“E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that generate aerosols by heating a liquid solution with a metal coil,” Dr. Hongying Daisy Dai, senior author of the study, told CNN. “This heating process might result in the release of metal particles into the liquid inhaled by e-cigarette users.”

Researchers acknowledge that the study is observational, meaning it didn’t establish a direct relationship between vaping and toxic levels of metals.

One in 10 American middle and high school students reported tobacco use in 2023, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among young adults.

“Use of e-cigarettes among young adults is also a concern because nicotine adversely impacts brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s,” the CDC wrote.

On a positive note, the CDC found that current e-cigarette use among high school students declined from 14.1% to 10.0% from 2022 to 2023.