Heavy metals, nicotine, arsenic in retail vape products

·2-min read
Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS

Widely available vape products have been found to contain toxic heavy metals, carcinogens and nicotine, according to new tests.

Queensland's Health and Environment Committee tested the chemical composition of 17 e-liquids available from retailers in the state.

All samples contained toxic heavy metals including arsenic, lead, mercury, nickel, chromium, antimony, aluminium, iron and nickel, along with known carcinogens like formaldehyde.

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Maria Boulton said although the study did not break new ground, anything that helped regulators and lawmakers act on vaping was a positive.

"I think the results are in, and really we don't need any more information to tell us that these substances are dangerous," Dr Boulton told Brisbane's 4BC radio on Saturday.

"If you have a toddler who gets access to a vape and ingests the liquid in the vape, they can actually die from that."

In the tests, nicotine was present in all samples, despite nicotine-containing vape products legally requiring a prescription in Queensland.

Nicotine content in the samples ranged from trace levels (less than 200 mg/kg) to 47,000 mg/kg.

Prescription vape products can contain up to 100,000 mg/kg of the drug.

In early May, the federal government announced it would ban all vape products except those prescribed by health professionals.

Queensland health minister Shannon Fentiman said the results were confronting, given the rising popularity of vape products with younger people

"These results make it clear that what is inside them is extremely dangerous," Ms Fentiman said in a statement.

Last week the Queensland government passed a bill to toughen controls on smoking and vaping, including harsher penalties for selling or storing illegal tobacco.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the test results were staggering.

"There are people who might think vaping is safer than smoking or, indeed, harmless," Ms Palaszczuk said in a statement.

"These test results should make those people think again."

The study did not monitor the relative safety of vaping relative to smoking.

AMA Queensland's Dr Boulton said it was important that smokers could access subsidies for long GP consultations to discuss their options to quit smoking.

"Vapes are not the first or the second line of defence when we're talking to someone about smoking cessation," she said.

Dr Boulton said the tobacco industry had sent emails to pharmacists offering kickbacks for referring people to doctors for nicotine vaping scripts.