Doctors issued warning about extensive damage to lung due to vaping after they discovered a rare form of lung scarring, typically found in people working with hard metals. Researchers, in a one-off case, found that the damaged organ was like that of the lungs of people in roles such as tool sharpening, diamond polishing, or making dental prosthetics.
Researchers said that hard-metal pneumoconiosis causes difficulty in breathing and it was just a one-off case of vaping but feared there could be more undocumented cases. According to the report, the patient was not exposed to such hard metals which hinted the possibility towards vaping. After diagnosis, it was found that the patient was using an e-cigarette device released toxic metals through the vapour including cobalt, nickel, aluminium, manganese, lead and chromium.
Recent results have established that inhalation of cobalt metal particles, along with other agents like hard metals or diamond dust may produce an interstitial lung disease termed 'hard metal disease' or 'cobalt lung'. Dr Rupal Shah, one of the members of the research team, said that it is the first known case of metal-induced toxicity caused by vaping. Dr Shah feared that the inflammation would not be apparent to people until the scarring has become irreversible, saying that the same happened with the patient.
Some scientists feel that vaping is still a better substitute to traditional smoking. Professor John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies, opined that there was a lack of evidence to arrive at such conclusions. Britton said there was no evidence of the presence of cobalt particles and that there was nothing in the paper to advice smokers otherwise. He said that people who smoke should switch to vaping and those who don’t smoke should not vape.
Dr Nick Hopkinson, medical director at the British Lung Foundation, advised vapers of UK to use only those products that have been regulated by MHRA. He also acknowledged that vaping is much safer than smoking but suggested everyone to try quit it in the long term.