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Lead and Uranium Can Affect the Brains of Vaping Teenagers

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By Brennan Forrest - - 5 Mins Read
A young man vaping
Vaping | Karl Edwards/Shutterstock

Do you know what's inside your vape? Recent studies have found harmful metals like lead and uranium present in vapes, which can pose serious health risks to teenagers.

These toxic metals can harm brain development and cause long-term consequences for teens' health.

As vaping becomes more popular among teens, it's important to understand these dangers.

This article will explain how these toxic metals enter vapes and the potential health consequences they can have on teens. 

How Lead and Uranium Can Affect the Brains of Vaping Teenagers

According to research conducted by Hongying Dai, the associate dean of research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Nebraska, USA, there might be a potential risk of teenagers who frequently vape being exposed to harmful metals like lead and uranium, which could negatively impact the development of their brain and organs.

The fact that the use of e-cigarettes among teenagers in Ireland and other parts of the world is increasing is indeed concerning.

The study analyzed responses from 1,607 teens aged 13 to 17 participating in the PATH Youth Study from December 2018 to November 2019.

Out of these, 200 vapers were included in the final analysis after some were excluded.

These participants provided urine samples, which were tested for metals such as cadmium, lead, and uranium.

Researchers found that teens who vaped more frequently had higher levels of lead and uranium in their urine compared to those who vaped less often.


A young woman vaping
Photo | Elsa Olofsson/Unsplash


Specifically, lead levels were 40% higher in intermittent vapers and 30% higher in frequent vapers than in occasional vapers. Additionally, uranium levels were twice as high in frequent vapers as in occasional vapers.


Also read: England's Children's Commissioner Explains Why Disposable Vapes Must Be Banned


The study also looked at the types of vape flavors used, grouping them into categories like menthol or mint, fruit, sweet (such as chocolate or desserts), and others (such as tobacco or alcoholic drinks).

Interestingly, those who preferred sweet flavors had 90% higher uranium levels compared to those who chose menthol or mint flavors.

No significant differences were found in cadmium levels based on how often teens vaped or the flavors they chose.

It’s important to note that this study is observational, meaning it can’t establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship between vaping frequency, flavors, and metal exposure.

The researchers also mentioned that the levels of toxic metals can vary depending on the brand and type of vaporizer used.

Despite these limitations, the findings highlight a concerning link between frequent vaping and increased exposure to harmful metals.

This suggests a need for more research, stricter regulation of vaping products, and targeted public health interventions to reduce the risks associated with e-cigarette use among teenagers.

Professor Lion Shahab, co-director of the UCL Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, commented on the study, emphasizing its role in monitoring e-cigarette users' exposure to toxins.

He highlighted that e-cigarettes are not without risks and advised against their use by non-smokers, particularly teenagers.

However, he noted that the study only shows differences in metal exposure among various vaping frequencies, not the total increase in exposure from vaping.

Since the type of e-cigarette affects metal exposure, more research is needed to find out which types are riskier.

This information can help regulators limit harmful devices. The study's small size means further research is necessary.