Tests on popular vapes have revealed shocking levels of nicotine and a range of harmful chemicals, including arsenic and formaldehyde, according to recent findings from the Health and Environment Committee in Queensland.
The committee analysed 17 e-liquid samples currently available on the Queensland vape market, evaluating their chemical composition. The lab tests aimed to identify the presence of nicotine and other substances such as carbonyl compounds, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and heavy metals.
The key findings of the analysis were alarming. All samples tested positive for nicotine, with concentrations ranging from trace levels to an astonishing 47,000 mg/kg. Moreover, every sample contained at least two carbonyl compounds: formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Formaldehyde, a group 1 human carcinogen, poses a significant health risk.
The presence of VOCs was also detected in all samples. VOCs are commonly used to manufacture paints, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants. These compounds can have detrimental effects on human health when inhaled or ingested.
Equally concerning was the presence of toxic heavy metals in all samples. Arsenic and zinc were found in every vape liquid tested, alongside other hazardous heavy metals such as lead, mercury, nickel, chromium, antimony, aluminium, iron, nickel, barium, manganese, copper, strontium, and vanadium. Several of these heavy metals are known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, and toxic to reproduction and development, as well as causing neurological anomalies.
It is worth noting that under Queensland law, vaping devices containing nicotine can only be obtained from a pharmacy with a prescription. Vapes containing nicotine from other retailers are considered illegal. In response to the concerning results, the federal government has banned all vapes except those prescribed by health professionals.
"I asked the Health and Environment Committee to look at this issue, and these results are staggering. There are people who might think vaping is safer than smoking or, indeed, harmless. These test results should make those people think again," said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
Health Minister Shannon Fentiman also expressed concern, remarking, "Frankly, these results are confronting. We know vapes are becoming more popular, especially among younger people, and these results make it clear that what is inside them is extremely dangerous."
The government recently passed a bill to strengthen controls on smoking and vaping, including stricter penalties for selling or storing illegal tobacco.
As the evidence mounts, it becomes increasingly apparent that vaping is not the safe alternative it was once believed to be, and stringent measures must be taken to protect public health. There is an urgent need for increased awareness among the general public, especially young people, regarding the potential dangers of vaping.