SOT Spotlight: Q&A with Elise De Gandiaga

Posted on Behalf of  Elise De Gandiaga

What is the title of your presentation?

Exposure and Human Health Risk of Metals from Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems

What was the scope of your research?

This research is the culmination of several years evaluating exposures associated with e-cigarettes or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). As these products have grown in popularity, device types and configurations have evolved to meet consumer demand. In more recent years, concerns regarding consumer exposure to metals have increased. The aim of our research was to examine the peer-reviewed literature and provide an assessment of metals and metalloids reported in ENDS aerosols. We evaluated the impact of device type on metal concentrations, compared aerosol measurements from ENDS to other tobacco products (such as combustible cigarettes), and performed a human health risk assessment of cadmium, chromium, lead, and nickel based on exposure estimates provided in the literature.

What did you find?

We identified 22 peer reviewed studies that reported mean aerosol concentrations for 35 of the 39 metal/metalloids in ENDS, with an even smaller pool of data reporting nicotine concentrations associated with metal exposures (16 out of 39 metal/metalloids). ENDS products generated metal concentrations within the range of those reported for combustible cigarettes, when normalized to nicotine, with a few exceptions (including chromium and nickel) for some ENDS categories. Non-cancer health risks for some metals were exceeded for several device types (e.g., chromium measured in cig-a-likes, tanks, unreported device types and e-hookahs). However, overall, the non-cancer risk reduction compared to combustible cigarettes ranged from 11.8-94.1% for all ENDS (excluding e-hookahs), whereas the cancer risk reduction ranged from 30.6-91.1% for all ENDS (excluding cig-a-like, unreported, and e-hookah) compared to combustible cigarettes.

What are the next steps/what other research is needed?

Utilizing the published literature to characterize exposure and risk is not without its limitations. Moving forward, we would recommend ENDS exposure studies report metal concentrations from both e-liquid and generated aerosol from ENDS, as well as nicotine concentrations in ENDS aerosol. Further, standardizing puffing parameters (e.g., puff duration and volume) and reporting device characteristics (e.g., power and device configuration) will allow researchers to compare metal aerosol concentrations across studies. Ultimately, such research can provide insight regarding potential ENDS harm reduction as compared to combustible cigarettes, as well as the appropriateness for protecting public health.