Tungsten and Cobalt Hard-Metal Lung Disease Diagnosed in E-Cigarette User

E-cigarette may cause tungsten and cobalt hard-metal lung disease, according to foreign media reports, a new case study conducted in Europe warns that e-cigarettes and other vaping devices may cause scarring in the lungs normally only found in metals workers. The research has been published by the European Lung Foundation. The study noted that hard-metal lung disease, a rare lung disease that results from inhaling hard metal particles, was identified in a person who used vaping devices.

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Hard metals include tungsten and cobalt, exposure to particles from these metals can happen in jobs that involve shaping them, such as among people who create dental prosthetics or sharpen tools. Recent research reveals that e-cigarette may also expose one's lungs to these harmful particles, paving the way for serious and rare lung diseases.

Scars caused by hard-metal pneumoconiosis result in breathing difficulties and cannot be cured. It is believed that the patients detailed the newly disclosed case study was the first person identified with this disease and were linked to the vape use rather than metalwork.

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Researchers working on this case tested e-cigarettes used by patients and found that their vapors contained some toxic metals, including lead, chromium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, and aluminum. It's likely that many other vaping products share similar metal vapors due to how these devices are constructed. High temperatures cause liquid solutions to vaporize, but toxic metal vapors can also be generated and inhaled.

According to a researcher behind the case study, it is particularly concerning inflammation caused by metal exposure in these vapors won’t be noticeable to the person who vapes until they have developed irreversible lung scarring. Because of the risk of exposure to hard metals such as tungsten and cobalt, the European Respiratory Society does not recommend the e-cigarette as a method of quitting smoking because of the risk of getting hard-metal lung disease.

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