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Heavy metals at amounts that are deadly were found in students’ vapes, which can cause brain damage.

A BBC story says that students at Baxter College in Kidderminster could be breathing in more lead, nickel, and chromium than is safe every day. This could slow the development of their brains.

When the students’ vapes were tested in the lab, it was found that they were breathing twice as much lead and nine times as much nickel as is safe. Some of the vapes also had dangerous chemicals found in cigarettes.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that a lot of lead can hurt the central nervous system and brain growth.

The Inter Scientific centre in Liverpool looked at at least 18 people who vape.

“I’ve been testing things for 15 years, and I’ve never seen lead in one. David Lawson, who helped start the lab, said, “None of these should be on the market because they have too much metal.”

“They are the worst set of results I’ve ever seen,” he said.

The vapes that looked like marker pens had 12 micrograms of lead per gramme, which is 2.4 times the safe exposure level. They also had 9.6 times the safe level of nickel and 6.6 times the safe level of chromium. E-liquid was the source of these metals.

The lab tests also showed that there were 10 times as many substances called carbonyls in illegal vapes as there were in legal vapes. Carbonyls break down when the e-liquid gets hot into chemicals like formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, which are also found in cigarette smoke. There are more settings in some vapes than in cigarettes.

At the Vape Shop in Beijing, China, where e-cigarettes are sold, a saleswoman shows how to vape with an e-cigarette. — Reuters/File
At the Vape Shop in Beijing, China, where e-cigarettes are sold, a saleswoman shows how to vape with an e-cigarette. — Reuters/File
Craig Copland, who is in charge of e-cigarettes at the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said that the results would be looked at to see if vapes were harmful to health.

Leon and Oscar, who go to Baxter College and had their vapes taken away, said it was hard for them to stop smoking.

Oscar said, “You won’t really care if you get hooked on it. You’ll just forget about it.”

Leon said that rules and law enforcement should do more to solve the problem.

“They don’t seem to care as much as they should,” he said.

The news shocked the school’s headmaster, Mat Carpenter.

“As a society, we can send two different messages. One is that vaping can be good for your health if you already smoke, but kids shouldn’t vape.”

Is it good for your health to vape?
A British teen said, “I almost died from vaping.”

John Britton, an epidemiology professor at the University of Nottingham and a member of the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Group, said it could be dangerous to breathe in metals.

He said, “Lead is a neurotoxin and slows the development of the brain. Chrome and nickel are allergens, and metal particles in the bloodstream can cause blood to clot and make heart disease worse.”

“Carbonyls are slightly cancer-causing, so long-term use will raise the risk of cancer. However, the levels of all of these things in legal products are very low, so the risk to an individual over a lifetime is very small.”

It is against the law to sell vapes to people under the age of 18. A YouGov poll done in March and April for Action on Smoking and Health showed that the number of 11- to 17-year-olds who tried vaping went up from 7.7% last year to 11.6% this year.

Lawson thought that there had been a much bigger rise in illegal products lately, and that some of them were hard to tell apart from ones that might be legal.