Vaping is on the rise
The FDA reports that e-cigarette usage among teens has risen by an appalling 78% in the last year. This relatively new trend has been seen by many as the safe alternative to smoking standard cigarettes. The problem is that little is known about the long-term health effects of this habit.
I think it’s time moms are made aware of exactly what these electronic cigarettes involve, so that they can educate and encourage their children not to blindly follow this dangerous trend. I’ve done some research on the issue, and this is what I have learned.
How “vaping” works
E-cigs are comprised of an interchangable inhaler cartridge, called a cartomizer. This cartomizer is filled with a liquid of vegetable glycerin and/or polyethelene glycol, flavoring and nicotine. As the user inhales, a sensor triggers the vaporizer to heat up the liquid filling. Once boiling, the liquid then turns to vapor and is inhaled through the mouth.
Yes, e-cigarettes do contain nicotine. In fact, they are often made up of equal levels of this addictive additive as the standard tobacco version. Nicotine is very hard on the young developing brain and heart. Its use can lead to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, stroke and altered nerve functioning.
It should be of particular concern to parents that the prefrontal cortex is highly sensitive to nicotine. This is an area of the brain that is still developing up into the early 20s and is responsible for decision making, emotions and impulse control.
According to a study done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information(NCBI), a comparison of 5 popular brands of e-cigarette liquids found heavy metal concentrations existing in each one. These metals included nickel, chromium, manganese, lead and cadmium. The levels of nickel and chromium were particularly concerning.
Chronic exposure to nickel has been associated with bronchitis and even lung cancer. It is also believed to be capable of entering the lymphatic system, inducing lymph node damage and decreasing the body’s ability to fight disease. Twelve percent of the general population has been found to be allergic to this metal.
Like nickel, chromium from vaping is probably being sourced from the heating elements. This metal is toxic even in small amounts.
The source of manganese in the practice of vaping is unclear. This finding is concerning because it is a neurotoxicant that is associated with symptoms that resemble Parkinson’s disease and lung inflammation.
Lead is highly toxic when inhaled because it is so readily absorbed into the bloodstream. On top of that, multiple organs are highly sensitive to it, even at low levels.
Low levels of cadmium can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Exposure over time can affect the kidneys, the heart and the bones.
The Flavoring Additives
Diacetyl is the synthetic substance that often gives microwave popcorn its butter-like flavor. The problem is that it also has the potential to cause permanent, severe and even lethal lung disease.
Acetoin is used in vape flavorings in order to give it a more buttery or caramel flavoring. This additive is equally concerning as another lung irritant that can lead to severe issues.
This substance, also known as Acetylpropionyl, is similar to the other two above mentioned chemicals and is equally concerning in its abilities to harm lung health.
Further health risks
There is even some evidence that points to modifications in oral cell dna as a result of vaping. DNA-damaging compounds discovered in saliva post-vaping included formaldehyde, acrolein and methylglyoxal.
What makes this activity so alluring?
Vaping appeals to our young people for many reasons. First of all, it is an electronic device that has a sleek and sophisticated look. The Juul device in particular, which looks like a pen or a flash drive, has a lot of options and ways to customize it, which they find fun. You can play smoke games with your friends and there are so many interesting flavors to experiment with.
How to be proactive as a parent
- Educate yourself, just like you are doing by reading this article. You can’t protect your kids when you aren’t properly informed about what exactly a hazard consists of.
- Educate your kids. As popular as this pastime is with the teen agegroup, it is something they will be exposed to at some point if they haven’t been already. Their friends are going to present it as something fun. You need to prepare them with the lowdown on the risks as well.
- Stay involved in your child’s life. Know what they are into and let them feel heard. They are much more likely to value what you have to say if you build a rapport with them.
Now you have a head start
There are concerns for every generation of young people and their parents. Being aware and fully informed is the best prevention you have.
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Do you worry about protecting your kids from toxins once they become more independent as teenagers? Talk to me in the comments about your future concerns and how this article may have helped you.