increased risk of uranium and lead poisoning in adolescents

increased risk of uranium and lead poisoning in adolescents
increased risk of uranium and lead poisoning in adolescents

High consumption of electronic cigarettes by young people could increase their risk of exposure to lead and uranium. Chronic exposure to these metals, including at low doses, can result in harmful health effects, particularly on the brain, kidneys, or fertility.

The authors of this study, published in the journal Tobacco Control, call for strengthening regulation and prevention to protect younger generations.[1].

Consumption on the rise among adolescents

The consumption of electronic cigarettes has increased significantly in many countries. In the United States, where the study was carried out, 14.1% of high school students declared in 2022 to have consumed this type of product in the last thirty days preceding the survey. As the New York Times indicates, 9% of young people aged 11 to 15 use electronic cigarettes, despite the ban on the sale of these products to minors. In France, the latest results of the ENCLASS survey show that 24.1% of high school students are also occasional consumers of electronic cigarettes, six points more than in 2018.[2]. Here again, a recent survey carried out by the National Committee against Tobacco showed that around 40% of tobacconists agree to sell disposable electronic cigarettes to minors aged 17, despite the illegal nature of such practices.

Uranium levels twice as high in frequent consumers

The survey focused on a nationally representative sample of 200 young American consumers of electronic cigarettes, with a median age of approximately 16 years. These adolescents were classified according to the intensity of their consumption: occasional (less than six days of consumption out of thirty), intermittent (from six to 19 days), and frequent (20 days per month or more). The results of the study show that intermittent and frequent use of electronic cigarettes by these young people was associated with higher levels of lead and uranium in their urine. Thus, lead levels in the urine of intermittent and frequent vapers were 30% to 40% higher in this group, compared to occasional users. Among frequent users, the levels of uranium in urine were twice as high as in the group of young people reporting occasional use.

An increased health risk for adolescents who consume sweet flavors

The authors of the study emphasize that the quantity of metals detected could vary considerably depending on the brand of electronic cigarette and the type of device used. However, the study recalls that exposure to these metals has been shown to be dangerous for health. In particular, chronic exposure to lead, including at low levels, can have repercussions on cardiovascular and renal health, but also on psychological development, or even on fertility, for both men and women. Exposure to uranium can affect cellular biology (cytotoxicity) and kidney health. The researchers also show that higher levels of uranium were noted among consumers of sweet flavors, which have undeniable commercial success among adolescents. Based on these results, the authors of the study call for strengthening regulations and the implementation of targeted prevention policies to protect younger generations from a new public health risk.

©Tobacco Free Generation


[1] Kochvar A, Hao G, Dai HD, Biomarkers of metal exposure in adolescent e-cigarette users: correlations with vaping frequency and flavoring, Tobacco Control Published Online First: 29 April 2024. doi: 10.1136/tc-2023-058554

[2] Use of psychoactive substances among middle and high school students – EnCLASS 2022 results, OFDT, published on January 25, 2024, (accessed on 04/30/2024)

National Committee Against Smoking |



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