Electronic Cigarettes Contain Higher Levels of Toxic Metal.


Electronic Cigarettes Found To Contain Dangerous Metal Nanopartices

A concerning new study found that the aerosol from electronic cigarettes contains higher levels of measurable nanoparticle heavy metals than conventional tobacco smoke.

A new study published in the journal PLoS One has uncovered a concerning fact about electronic cigarettes (EC): toxic metal and silicate particles including nanoparticles are present in both the cigarette fluid and aerosol.1

Researchers at the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, University of California Riverside, tested the hypothesis that electronic cigarettes (EC) contain metals from various components in EC.  They employed a variety of testing methods to ascertain the level of contamination, including light and electron microscopy, cytotoxicity testing, and x-ray microanalysis. Their results were reported as follows:

The filament, a nickel-chromium wire, was coupled to a thicker copper wire coated with silver. The silver coating was sometimes missing. Four tin solder joints attached the wires to each other and coupled the copper/silver wire to the air tube and mouthpiece. All cartomizers had evidence of use before packaging (burn spots on the fibers and electrophoretic movement of fluid in the fibers). Fibers in two cartomizers had green deposits that contained copper. Centrifugation of the fibers produced large pellets containing tin. Tin particles and tin whiskers were identified in cartridge fluid and outer fibers. Cartomizer fluid with tin particles was cytotoxic in assays using human pulmonary fibroblasts. The aerosol contained particles >1 µm comprised of tin, silver, iron, nickel, aluminum, and silicate and nanoparticles (<100 nm) of tin, chromium and nickel. The concentrations of nine of eleven elements in EC aerosol were higher than or equal to the corresponding concentrations in conventional cigarette smoke. Many of the elements identified in EC aerosol are known to cause respiratory distress and disease.

The study authors concluded that “The presence of metal and silicate particles in cartomizer [atomizer/cartridge connecting to the battery] aerosol demonstrates the need for improved quality control in EC design and manufacture and studies on how EC aerosol impacts the health of users and bystanders.”

Cartomizer Anatomy

Discussion

While e-cigarettes are rightly marketed as safer than conventional tobacco cigarettes, which contain thousands of known toxic compounds including highly carcinogenic radioactive isotopes, they have not been without controversy.  In May 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration Division of Pharmaceutical Analysis found diethylene glycol, a poisonous liquid used in explosives and antifreeze, in one of the cartridges they sampled. They also discovered the cancer-causing agent, tobacco-specific nitrosamines, in a number of commonly used brands.2

The findings of this latest PLoS One study refutes proponents of e-cigarettes who claim that the health risks of smoking are eliminated with their use. Heavy metals like tin, aluminum, cadmium, lead and selenite are increasingly being recognized as carrying significant endocrine disrupting potential and belong to a class of metals known as ‘metalloestrogens.’

One of the unintended, adverse consequences of nanotechnology in general is that by making a substance substantially smaller in size than would occur naturally, or though pre-nanotech production processes, the substance may exhibit significantly higher toxicity when in nanoparticle form. Contrary to older toxicological risk models, less is more: by reducing a particle’s size the technology has now made that substance capable of evading the body’s natural defenses more easily, i.e. passing through pores in the skin or mucous membranes, evading immune and detoxification mechanisms that evolved millions of years before the nanotech era.

For example, when nickel particles are reduced in size to the nanometer range (one billionth of a meter wide) they may actually become more toxic to the endocrine system as now they are capable of direct molecular interaction with estrogen receptors in the body, disrupting their normal structure and function.3 4 5 Moreover, breathing these particles into the lungs, along with other metals, ethylene glycol and nicotine produces a chemical concoction exhibiting synergistic toxicity, i.e. the toxicity of the whole is higher than the sum of their parts. These sorts of “chemical soups” are exceedingly difficult to study, as they embody a complexity that analytical and theoretical models within toxicology are not equipped to readily handle. Nonetheless, it is likely that when taken together the harms done by e-cigarettes are significant, and will likely manifest only after chronic use when identifying ‘singular causes’ of disease is nearly impossible. Regulators will have a hard time, therefore, identifying a “smoking” gun even after a broad range of health issues do emerge in exposed populations.

Ultimately, finding a less harmful alternative to tobacco smoking is justified, but let buyer (and user) beware, the products are not without possible harm as some marketers falsely advertise.

 

Growing Evidence Of Marijuana Smoke’s Potential Dangers.


In a finding that challenges the increasingly popular belief that smoking marijuana is less harmful to health than smoking tobacco, researchers in Canada are reporting that smoking marijuana, like smoking tobacco, has toxic effects on cells.

Rebecca Maertens and colleagues note that people often view marijuana as a “natural” product and less harmful than tobacco. As public attitudes toward marijuana change and legal restrictions ease in some countries, use of marijuana is increasing.

Scientists know that marijuana smoke has adverse effects on the lungs. However, there is little knowledge about marijuana’s potential to cause lung cancer due to the difficulty in identifying and studying people who have smoked only marijuana.

The new study begins to address that question by comparing marijuana smoke vs. tobacco smoke in terms of toxicity to cells and to DNA. Scientists exposed cultured animal cells and bacteria to condensed smoke samples from both marijuana and tobacco. There were distinct differences in the degree and type of toxicity elicited by marijuana and cigarette smoke.

Marijuana smoke caused significantly more damage to cells and DNA than tobacco smoke, the researchers note. However, tobacco smoke caused chromosome damage while marijuana did not.

Source: : http://www.sciencedaily.com

Does coffee really sober you up when drunk?.


A few years ago I went to a play at my local theatre with some friends. My husband arrived late and a little jolly, having been to his office Christmas lunch and spent most of the afternoon drinking wine. Luckily it was a comedy, but he laughed so much that even the cast looked surprised at his enthusiasm.

During the interval I bought him a coffee to help sober him up before the second act. By the end of the play he was a bit quieter, but was I right to assume it was the coffee that had done the trick?

coffee

The sedative effects of large quantities of alcohol are well-established. For the first hour-and-a-half or so, when blood-alcohol concentrations are high, people become more alert. From two hours after alcohol consumption to around six hours, objective measures of sleepiness increase . Caffeine does the opposite, making people more alert, which has led to the appealing idea that a cup of coffee can cancel out the effects of a pint of beer.

Sadly it’s not that straightforward. Historically, studies of the effect of caffeine on people’s driving abilities when drunk (in the lab, not on the roads) have had contradictory results. Some have found it reverses the slowing of reaction times caused by alcohol, others have found it doesn’t.

More recently, a study published in 2009 was designed to tease out in more detail the effects of combining alcohol and caffeine. Mice were given alcohol followed by the human equivalent of eight cups of coffee. After the caffeine they seemed more alert, but they were still much worse than sober mice at getting round a maze.

So caffeine can counteract the tiredness induced by alcohol, which might explain why a cup of coffee is popular in many places at the end of a meal. But it can’t remove feelings of drunkenness or some of the cognitive deficits alcohol causes. The reason is that we have to metabolise the alcohol we drink in order to diminish its effects. The body processes it in several ways. Mostly it’s broken down in the liver by two enzymes, alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase. After several steps the alcohol is eventually excreted as water and carbon dioxide.

It takes approximately an hour for the body to metabolise one unit of alcohol, although some people do it faster and some slower, depending on their genetic make-up, how much food they’ve eaten and how often they drink. Caffeine doesn’t speed up the process. However its effects vary according to which function you’re looking at. One study, for example, found a large dose of caffeine can counteract the negative effects of alcohol on memory, but that feelings of dizziness remain.

There are also suggestions that caffeine can make matters worse. If you feel tired you are more likely to realise that you must be drunk, but if the caffeine takes away some of that fatigue you might believe you’re sober when you’re not. This might explain the findings of a study of American college students from 2008. Those who chose drinks containing both alcohol and caffeine, such as vodka and Red Bull, were twice as likely to get hurt in an accident and more than twice as likely to accept a lift with a driver who was over the limit. This effect was independent of the amount of alcohol consumed. This is an early study on the topic in which the students choose their own drinks and reported themselves how much they’d drunk. But it does illustrate how caffeine could fool people into thinking they’re sobering up, and some of the potentially disastrous consequences.

So if I go to a play on the day of my husband’s office party this year, I’ll know that only time will make a difference. I’ll have to hope it’s a production with a third act then.

Source: BBC