- Inhalation-activated vape pens expose users to the contents of the battery compartment
- Cheap cartridges leak into the battery compartment, and may leach metal from exposed solder
- Liquid and vapor contaminated with heavy metal can be inhaled by vape pen users
The CDC and the FDA have not found a common causal agent in the cartridges/products used by all people who have developed the illness.
The presence of cadmium has not been confirmed yet in the products used by patients who developed EVALI. The hypothesis remains plausible:
- Progression of cadmium pneumonitis (Greenberg & Vearrier, 2015) closely resembles the clinical findings of patients with EVALI (Layden et al., 2019; Schier et al., 2019)
- Cadmium is frequently present in solder used in the construction of cheap electronic devices like vape pens
- When they are present in vape pens or e-liquid, cadmium and other toxic metals have been shown to transfer into the lungs on vapor (Aherrera et al., 2017; Goniewicz et al., 2018)
Key findings from our vape pen study
Findings relate only to airflow-activated ("auto") vape pens, as only these designs have an open channel into the battery compartment. Our results indicate plausible scenarios for contamination of vape liquid and transfer of contaminated vapor to the lungs.
Quite unexpectedly, we also discovered the lithium ion cells contained within unbranded/counterfeit vape pens can be traced back to their manufacturer. This may be useful in determining the original source of the tainted hardware and cartridges.
- Significant Potential for Contamination. Vape liquid readily seeps into the battery compartment of airflow-activated ("auto") vape pens
- Heavy Metal Leaching. In the majority of auto vape pens examined, significant amounts (40mg-80mg) of exposed metal solder is in direct contact with vape liquid entering the battery compartment
- Significant Potential for Transfer to Lungs. Vape liquid that has entered the battery compartment can re-enter the atomizer compartment and be inhaled
- Traceability. The exterior of counterfeit vape pen hardware and cartridges contain no information on the identity of the manufacturer. Once disassembled, however, the lithium ion cells from the interior of the vape pens were are imprinted with 1) date of production, 2) barcode and battery model/product number, and, 3) the manufacturer's ID code........Read More