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Nicotine Tob Res. 2018 Aug 9. doi: 10.1093/ntr/nty161. [Epub ahead of print]

Exposure to Cadmium and Lead in Cigarette Smokers Who Switched to Electronic Cigarettes.

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Institute of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, Koscielna, Sosnowiec, Poland.
School of Pharmacy with the Division of Laboratory Medicine in Sosnowiec, Medical University of Silesia, Department of General and Analytical Chemistry, Jagiellonska Sosnowiec, Poland.



E-cigarettes (ECs) seem to be a less harmful alternative for conventional cigarettes. This study aimed to assess whether the generated aerosols from ECs contain lower amount of Cd and Pb than cigarette smoke and to detect any changes in exposure to cadmium and lead among cigarette smokers who switched completely or partially to EC.


EC aerosols and cigarette smoke were generated, and the determination of Cd and Pb in trapped samples and e-liquids was performed by the Electrothermal Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (ETAAS) method. A cross-sectional, group-based survey was carried out using 156 volunteers classified into groups of nonsmokers, EC-only users, dual EC users-cigarette smokers and cigarette-only smokers. Using ETAAS, blood Cd and Pb levels were measured, and the results were compared by analysis of covariance.


Transfer of Cd and Pb to EC aerosol was found to be minimal, although the metals were present in the remaining e-liquid from tanks used for vapor generation. The geometric mean blood cadmium concentration adjusted for age and sex was 0.44 (95% confidence interval: 0.37 to 0.52) µg/L in the EC-only users, which was significantly lower than those in the smokers of 1.44 (1.16 to 1.78) and dual users of 1.38 (1.11 to 1.72). The blood lead geometric mean differed significantly only between nonsmokers of 11.9 (10.6 to 13.3) and smokers of 15.9 (13.6 to 18.6).


The study revealed that smokers who completely switched to e-cigarettes and quit smoking conventional cigarettes may significantly reduce their exposure to Cd and probably Pb.


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