Vaping leaves e-cigarette user with rare lung scarring typically seen in metal workers

The Sun 6 days ago

MEDICS say smokers should not start vaping after an e-cig user’s lungs were permanently scarred.

Doctors diagnosed the patient with hard-metal pneumoconiosis, a rare form of lung disease that causes irreparable damage, persistent coughing and breathing issues.

They found the toxic metals cobalt, nickel, aluminium, manganese, lead and chromium in vapour released by the patient’s e-cig. Experts believe the metals come from the heating coils found in vaping devices.

The European Respiratory Society, which published the case study, has now issued a new warning against vaping.

The society said: “The human lungs are created to breathe clean air.”

University of Manchester’s Prof Jørgen Vestbo, who co-wrote the editorial, said: “E-cigarettes are harmful. The medical profession and public should be concerned about a new wave of lung diseases.”

Prof Kirk Jones said: “This patient did not have any known exposure to hard metal, so we identified the use of an e-cigarette as a possible cause.

“We believe it is likely not just that this will happen again but that it has happened already but not been recognised.”


Researchers found the toxic metals cobalt, nickel, aluminium, manganese, lead and chromium in the vapour released by the patient’s e-cig.

They have previously been found in vapour from other e-cigarettes. Experts believe the metals come from the heating coils found in vaping devices, rather than any particular type of re-fill.

Scarring cannot be cured but some patients see mild improvement if the exposure to metal dust stops and they are given steroids.

Dr Rupal Shah, also from the UoC, said: “Exposure to cobalt dust is extremely rare outside of a few specific industries.

“This is the first known case of a metal-induced toxicity in the lung that has followed from vaping and it has resulted in long-term, probably permanent, scarring of the patient’s lungs.

“We think that only a rare subset of people exposed to cobalt will have this reaction.


“But the problem is that the inflammation caused by hard metal would not be apparent to people using e-cigarettes until the scarring has become irreversible, as it did with this patient.”

The case study was published in the European Respiratory Journal, which is run by European Respiratory Society.

The society has now issued a new warning against using e-cigarettes as aid to quit smoking, saying other methods are safer.

It said: “The human lungs are created to breathe clean air, not ‘reduced levels of toxins and carcinogens’, and the human body is not meant to be dependent on addictive drugs.

“ERS cannot recommend any product that is damaging to the lungs and human health.”

Prof Jørgen Vestbo, from the University of Manchester, who co-wrote the editorial, said: “Research on e-cigarettes is still less developed than it is for smoking.

“However, there are a number of new studies showing that vaping affects the lungs and we are now beginning to see patients diagnosed with acute vaping-related lung disease.

“The medical profession as well as the public should be concerned about a new wave of lung diseases caused by a product which is heavily promoted by the tobacco industry.”

Dr Nick Hopkinson, from Imperial College London, who was not involved the case, said it may be relevant that the patient was vaping cannabis oil.

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