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E-Cigarette User Diagnosed With Rare Form of Lung Scarring Found Commonly in Metal Workers

A young person vaping using an e-cigarette device.

E-cigarette use, according to researchers who are studying a patient with a rare lung condition typically found in metal workers. According to a news report, the condition creates “an unusual and distinctive pattern of damage” to the lungs and results in breathing problems. It is typically diagnosed in people who work with hard metals such as cobalt or tungsten in jobs such as diamond polishing, tool sharpening and making dental prosthetics.

Vapor Shown to Contain Toxic Metals

This case history, published in the European Respiratory Journal is the first known case where the disease has been linked to vaping. In an editorial in the same edition of the journal, researchers said the lung disease known as hard-metal pneumoconiosis is diagnosed by looking at a sample of a patient’s lung tissue under the microscope. The lung tissue of a person who has this disease has a distinctive and unusual appearance that is not observed in other diseases.

Exposure to metal dust or vapor, usually cobalt, causes this disease. Since the patient on whom researchers performed the case study had no exposure to hard metal, they identified the use of e-cigarettes as a possible cause. Hard-metal pneumoconiosis causes damaged lung cells to engulf other cells and form “giant” cells that can be clearly seen under the microscope. This condition could result in permanent scarring in the patient’s lungs. Some common symptoms include breathing difficulty and chronic coughing.

This scarring is not curable, but some patients may experience mild improvements if the exposure to the hard metal dust stops and if they receive steroid treatment. Researchers tested the patient’s e-cigarette and found cobalt in the vapor it released as well as other toxic metals such as nickel, aluminum, manganese, lead and chromium. Experts say these metals come from vaping devices’ heating coils. The individuals who conducted this case study have warned that the public should be very worried about the new wave of lung diseases caused by a product, which is heavily promoted by the tobacco industry.

Dangerous and Defective Products

Our product defect attorneys have consistently maintained that e-cigarettes and vaping devices are a new incarnation of traditional tobacco cigarettes, which big tobacco companies are aggressively and very cleverly marketing. The public should be extremely wary of what these devices and the vaping juices that produce the vapors are made of because study after study is showing that these are dangerous products that could have devastating and long-term health consequences for users.


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