Warning Issued After Vaper's Lung Scarring Was Likened To Metal Damage
The organ damage has been likened to that typically seen in patients working with metals such as cobalt or tungsten.
But the recent admission has been linked to e-cigarettes because the patient didn't have any exposure to such hard metals.
Upon examination and testing, the e-cigarette device that the anonymous patient was using was found to have cobalt in the vapour it released, as well as other toxic metals - nickel, aluminium, manganese, lead and chromium.
Researchers have now said that this is the first known case where the disease - hard-metal pneumoconiosis - has been linked to vaping, but there may be further undocumented cases.
The disease results in breathing difficulties and has only previously been found in people that work in roles such as tool sharpening, diamond polishing or making dental prosthetics.
Unfortunately, the disease can't be cured but, according to News.com, it can be mildly improved if the exposure to hard-metal dust stops and they are treated with steroids.
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Dr Rupal Shah MD, from the University of California, explained how exposure to cobalt dust was extremely rare outside of a few specific industries.
She said: "This is the first known case of a metal-induced toxicity in the lung that has followed from vaping and it has resulted in long-term, probably permanent, scarring of the patient's lungs.
"We think that only a rare subset of people exposed to cobalt will have this reaction, but the problem is that the inflammation caused by hard metal would not be apparent to people using e-cigarettes until the scarring has become irreversible, as it did with this patient."
Dr Kirk Jones, also from the University of California, added that people who vape are often looking for an alternative to smoking - or to stop smoking.
He explained: "But as lung physicians, it is our job to be concerned about the substances that are inhaled into the lung, particularly those substances that can bypass our usual defence mechanisms such as these ultra-fine mists.
"We believe it is likely not just that this will happen again, but that it has happened already but not been recognised.
"One of our major reasons for publishing this case history is to inform our colleagues about the possible risks involved with vaping."
Featured Image Credit: PA