Hard metal pneumoconiosis identified in e-cigarette user


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Researchers have identified a rare form of lung scarring, typically found in metal workers, in an e-cigarette user. 

In a case report, published in the European Respiratory Journal, doctors in the United States describe the case of a previously healthy 49-year-old woman, who had presented with progressive shortness of breath on exertion, a non-productive cough and wheezing.

The patient had recently been diagnosed with asthma following an adverse reaction to ketorolac injection for low back pain. The patient had a remote history of smoking cigarettes in her teens and 20s and had been using a marijuana e-cigarette for six months.

Pathological examination revealed giant cell interstitial pneumonia. Testing of the e-cigarette device identified cobalt in the vapour it released, as well as nickel, aluminium, manganese, lead and chromium, which the authors said support the causative role of cobalt from e-cigarettes in her illness. 

The final diagnosis was giant cell interstitial pneumonia, secondary to cobalt exposure from the e-cigarette. 

While this is believed to be the first case of hard metal pneumoconiosis associated with e-cigarette use, author Professor Kirk Jones said, "it is likely not just that this will happen again, but that it has happened already but not been recognised."