0:00 - Intro with Joanna Junak
0:30 - Dr Roberto Sussman discusses his recent review looking at e-cigarette safety studies
10:31 - Metal concentrations in e-cigarette vapour dependent on real-world applicability of testing conditions
14:41 - Unrealistic testing undermines e-cigarette toxicity research
Hello and welcome. I'm Joanna Yunak and this is JFN News on GFN TV Today's program. Roberto Suzmann, founder and director of Prova Pero, Mexico and member of Inco, will tell us more about the latest study on metal compacts in ecigarette. Oracle. Thank you, Roberto, for joining us today. It's nice to have you on the program. First, you examine the methodology of several studies looking at toxic compounds in ecigarette vapor. Could you elaborate on the problems you uncovered in these studies?
The central issue of harm reduction is that you actually reduce harms, right? And typically we take as reference cigarette smoke, right? Because electronic cigarettes are a product that are substituting cigarettes, tobacco, cigarettes. So we want to assure people that this change of product is reliable, right? So the basis of this produces a lot of research in many areas because it is a complex problem. You have chemistry and physics of the emissions that you compare, but then you also have bill markers because once this aerosol or celebrate smoke enters to your body, it makes biological changes. Some changes are very quick and they reflect in the biomarkers, but other changes also occur at cellular level of tissues and even longer term, what are your chances of getting certain diseases, cardiovascular, et cetera? And also there is a demographic interest. You would like to see to what degree people are switching to this product and to what degree they are successful in replacing cigarettes. And also you want to see what is the effect on some vulnerable or subpopulations like teenagers, or you want to see if nonsmokers stick it up and what, et cetera. But the basis of the pyramid is the chemistry and the physics of the emissions. If we could find that the emissions, the aerosol that we are emitting when we vape, if this aerosol is toxic, that it has a high concentration of known toxic compounds and toxicity is always comparative. You compare it with standards that are very well known. So if the toxic content of the aerosol is too high, then what's the point of going on? The rest of the pyramid cannot be built. And we have examples of that, like when the tobacco industry in the 90s or in the 1980s, they released some cigarettes that they were, I don't know, like low car or they put special filters and they were advertised as safer. But once you look at the emissions, you see they are not safer. So it is very important to check the chemistry, the chemical properties and physical properties of the aerosols to be able to know. Now, unfortunately, many of the studies that have done that have not done it correctly. Because the first requisite that you need to test the emissions is that you test them in a way that it is realistic, that it is as faithful as you can to the real life usage of the devices. If you test them in conditions that do not correspond to the real usage of the devices, then you might even do a very good experiment in terms of the procedures, the chemical, physical procedures, but it is not going to be useful for the end user. A good analogy is to test a car, right? Suppose you test the car and it is a very powerful sports car that goes very fast and you take a driver that has never driven a car like that, a naive, novel driver, and you ask this driver to drive this car at 250 km/hour, what will happen? Well, the person will die, will crash. But you are testing the car in conditions that are not realistic, right? Because people do not drive this type of cars in general at 250 km/hour. So even if your testing materials and procedures are impeccable, that's a misleading test. And the only reason you would conduct such a test is if you want to generate fear in the population towards cars, then you would do this type of testing. So we wanted to check, because there is a lot of literature that it is often cited that electronic cigarettes contain metallic compounds in the emissions. Metallic compounds are very toxic. But again, I emphasize that toxicity depends on the dose. Like right now you are probably in Poland, I'm here in Mexico. We're breathing metals, right? Metals don't come from another galaxy. They are natural ingredients in air, in the soil, in water, in food. And we inhale them or we ingest them, but we don't drop dead because the dose is very small.
But some of these studies, they not only say that electronics, that metal compounds, typically oxides, are detected in the aerosol of the electronic cigarettes, they say they are detected in very large concentrations and doses that are above the toxicological market. So our focus was to look at this experiment, to look, first, if they tested the devices in realistic conditions that approximate real usage, right? Second, to see if they provide all the information that we need and also if they computed correctly, the exposures.
So we wanted to check that carefully. That was the aim of the study, right? This is what we focus on doing that specifically on metals.
Now. We are also going to do that for organic byproducts because electronic cigarettes finish this part. You see you have a liquid, right? If you analyze the liquid, that gives you some idea of what will come in the aerosol. But you have to bear in mind that this liquid will be heated, right? The moment you push a battery, you input energy and that energy will hit the liquid, right? So when this liquid, the compounds that make this liquid are heated, then there is a chemical, there are chemical processes, typically is what we call low energy pyrolysis or thermal degradation. And some new compounds will be generated. We call this the byproducts, which are different from the solvents glycol and glycerol and nicotine and water, which is what is in the liquid. But then other compounds will be generated, right. And these are called byproducts and we need to analyze them because toxicity is like it's going to be there in the cigarette is the same. You hit the tobacco plant and this heating generates a lot of chemical processes that generate but the chemistry of a cigarette is much more complicated. Nevertheless, this was the focus to look at this byproducts metals are going to be there because the electronic cigarette is metallic. So by physics of surfaces, some of these metals will enter the arrow. So we want to see if the amount of metals that enter there are really toxic in the sense that are higher than toxic market. So this was the focus of the paper, right?
Could you tell us more about the types of metals that you have been reported in Ecigarette paper?
Well, the studies, they look at a wide variety of metals, right. The so called hard metals, heavy metals, right? But also metaloids, which are metals are very large amount of compounds, right. Now the alloys of the coils of the electronic cigarettes, they are typically necrome the Snicker, chrome, iron. And so the way that these are detected, typically the mass spectrometer, right. When the aerosol, it is a jungle of molecules or whatever. And then you put some, you put electrical magnetic fields and then all these atoms and molecules are dissembled. But you have a computer program that allows from this dissembling that allows to set up, but you do have to target it.
Now there are libraries of compounds and you can have a very good idea of why it's there because these articles, most of the metals and discounts also from surface, most of them will be oxide.
Because these metal ions will mix with the oxygen of the air. Right. The oxygen is a very active, active compound and it will mix with this. So typically there will be nanoparticles made of oxids, right. And nano particles, meaning particles very, very small nanometers. Nanometers is one the angel Saxons, the people who speak English, they would say 1 billion, right? But really it's 1000 of million parts is that inometer? And this oxidy going to the aerosol. But once you put them in the mass spectrometer, you will get the metal elements, not the oxide. It is an oxide, typically. But the mass spectrometer will tell you how much nickel, how much chrome, how much lead, iron, copper. You know, the metal elements will tell you the metal elements because they have been dissembled by the mass spectrometer. Okay? So the most abundant metal that is found in all studies, it is sink. But sink is not a very toxic metal, right? In fact, the body uses a lot of sink. So sink is not so concerning because the toxicological markers allow for a high concentration of it. But the most concerning metal is nickel. Nickel is also found in high concentrations, right? But the toxicological markers are lower. Another concerning metal is lead. I think that's the way it's pronounced in English, lead and then also cover chrome. But typically the most concerning method is nickel right?
Now, and how might this unrealistic condition occur and how might this then affect the result of this toxicity?
Studies to make an unrealistic testing, you would set up your vaping machine. Because these experiments are done with vaping machines. You cannot put a sensor in the mouth of a person. So it has to be done by machine. So the vaping machine will have a very small airflow, right? Very small airflow. That would work for a cigarette.
And so the machine has a very small airflow, but you generate a lot of vapor. So you do not evacuate efficiently this vapor. And as the machines keep puffing this vapor, more vapor accumulates and becomes very hot. So you are going to have the condition that is known as overheating because your machines are using an airflow and a puffing volume that is meant for cigalikes or for low power devices, but you are using it in an high power device, so you are not evacuating the vapor. The temperature increases because you are still supplying the same amount of power and energy, right? And so a human, if you would give this aerosol to a human, it would be too hot, it would burn your mouth. It would be like around 80 or 90 degrees. And your mouth can take maybe up to 50 or 60 degrees. So the person would burn and it would taste awful. It would taste really repellent. But the machines do not feel, do not taste. The machines continue operating. Right? Now, in an extreme case, the liquid, because it is consumed very fast because of the overheating, consumes the liquid very fast. There comes a point when the liquid depletes. And what happens is that the week which is made of cotton becomes to be purelyed or even burnt, right? And this is what is called the dry heat. You can have overheating without a dry heat, but typically the dry heat is the end result of extreme overheating. And so these people do the test with a vaping machine that would work for a jewel or for a low power device like this. And they test these monsters in previously they produce overheating. Of course, they get lots of metal, nickel, lead, copper, iron, manganese, sink, of course, a lot. And then they report that they say, oh, we found electronic cigarettes or Danubes. We have to regulate them very strictly because otherwise people are going to have lots of metals in their body, is toxic. And these papers are cited all the time. All the time. The who, all sorts of anti tobacco now, antivaping NGOs, Campaign for Tobacco, cricket, all of these people, and even scientists, people in good faith, they think that these experiments have shown that electronic cigarettes have metals in high quantities and they should be regular. But we wanted to see if this is true, because, again, I emphasize toxicity is the basis of the pyramid. If this aerosol is really toxic above our normal thresholds, then what's the point of using an electronic cigarette? Well, you could use it, but then it would be like cigarettes, right? So the whole building, the whole editors of Tobacco harm Reduction rests on checking that there is harm reduction.
And this is what we did in this paper.
Thank you, Roberto, for an interesting discussion. We will come back to you on Thursday with some more questions. That's all for today. Find us on Gfntv or on our new podcast for more topaco harm reduction updates. Thanks for watching or listening. See you next time.