Vaping leaves e-cigarette user with rare lung scarring
An e-cigarette user has been diagnosed with a rare form of lung scarring typically found in metal workers, says a new study.
Doctors diagnosed the patient with hard-metal pneumoconiosis, a rare form of lung disease that causes irreparable damage, persistent coughing and breathing issues.
According to a study, this is the first known case where the disease has been linked to vaping.
"Hard-metal pneumoconiosis is diagnosed by looking at a sample of patient's lung tissue under the microscope. It has a distinctive and unusual appearance that is not observed in other diseases. When we diagnose it, we are looking for occupational exposure to metal dust or vapour, usually cobalt, as a cause," said researchers.
"This patient did not have any known exposure to hard metal, so we identified the use of an e-cigarette as a possible cause," they said.
Hard-metal pneumoconiosis causes damaged lung cells to engulf other cells and form 'giant' cells that can be seen clearly under a microscope.
It can result in permanent scarring in patients' lungs with symptoms such as breathing difficulties and chronic coughing.
This scarring cannot be cured, although some patients may have mild improvement if the exposure to hard-metal dust stops and they are treated with steroids.
When researchers tested the patient's e-cigarette, a personal vaping device used with cannabis, they found cobalt in the vapour it released, as well as other toxic metals.
Previous research has also found these metals in vapour from other e-cigarettes and researchers say they believe the metals are coming from the heating coils found in vaping devices, rather than from any particular type of re-fill.
"Exposure to cobalt dust is extremely rare outside of a few specific industries."
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