We already know vaping can damage your lungs just like cigarettes.  EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury) has been declared an “outbreak” by the CDC. As of February 2020, 68 deaths have been confirmed and over 2,800 hospitalizations have been associated with EVALI. The agency linked the condition to vaping products with vitamin E acetate and THC in vaping liquids. However they have not ruled out other chemicals of concern. Now, doctors are seeing a new condition popping up in e-cigarette users that was previously only seen in industrial metal workers—hard-metal lung disease.

“It has a distinctive and unusual appearance that is not observed in other diseases,” said case report co-author Dr. Kirk Jones, a professor of pathology at the University of California, San Francisco. “When we diagnose it, we are looking for occupational exposure to metal dust or vapor, usually cobalt, as a cause.”  However, many who do not work in the industry are becoming ill with the same symptoms.  When studied,  some vaping liquids were found to contain nickel, aluminum, manganese, lead, cobalt, and chromium. 

The researchers speculate that the metals being found in the vaping liquids are coming from the coils in the pen itself.  Pens contain a metal coil that heats to vaporize the liquid cartridge which is then inhaled.  Vaping marijuana increases the risk because much higher temperatures are required to vaporize THC than plain nicotine.  Research has already shown that the hotter the pen, the greater the toxic substances released. And research is turning up other forms of lung damage.  Lung tissue analyzed at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona revealed burns normally only seen when a person breathes in spilled toxic chemicals.

The CDC states that E-cigarette, or vaping, products (nicotine- or THC-containing) should never be used by youths, young adults, or women who are pregnant.  They also recommend that adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using e-cigs or vaping products–period.