Vapes of Dutch Children Examined in Lab: Full of Poison, Lead, and Too Much Nicotine

Toxic metals, carcinogenic substances, and much more nicotine than is legally allowed. That’s what’s in vapes that are frequently smoked by Dutch youngsters, according to research by RTL Nieuws. We examined unwrapped vapes that ten high schools from across the country sent to our editors upon request. Experts call the results “extremely worrisome”. “This research shows for the first time that Dutch children are using vapes that are poisoning their own bodies and brains.”

“Some of the results are bizarre”, states Remco Westerink, a toxicologist at Utrecht University, after studying the findings. “If you consider that children with undeveloped brains use it, this is really a harmful product.”

Many Dutch people vape, even at a very young age. October revealed that one in five young people between 12 and 25 had vaped at some point in the past year, ranging from once a month to every day. This is partly why the government introduced stricter regulations: since Jan. 1, it has been illegal to sell a flavored vape. Yet it is still easy to get one, which is why many young people still do it.

Vaping is not allowed in most high schools, which is why they have a rule that teachers take away vapes if students are caught smoking an e-cigarette.

Liquid and vapor tested

RTL News asked high schools across the country if they would send the vapes they picked up to our editors. We had a selection of them examined by a specialized laboratory in Liverpool, UK. There, the liquid in the vapes was analyzed and the vapor inhaled when smoking the vape was tested. This shows the following:

  • 8 of the 20 vapes contained (much) more nicotine than permitted by law
  • Formaldehyde was found in 7 of the 20 vapes
  • Lead was found in 3 of the 20 vapes
  • All 20 vapes had a larger content than allowed by law
  • Nickel, acetone, iron, acrolein, valeraldehyde, and butyraldehyde were also found in several vapes

But what does this mean? Toxicologist Westerink is clear about that: “This shows that there are many different harmful substances in vapes. That is worrying in itself, but when you consider that these vapes were used by children with still developing brains, this is really a harmful product.”

As much nicotine in one vape as hundreds of cigarettes

That there was too much nicotine in the vape in almost half of the cases is one of the most striking findings, according to Westerink. “There are even vapes among them with an amount of nicotine from 200 to 400 cigarettes.” And that can lead to major problems. For example, nicotine can interfere with brain development, cause concentration problems and mood swings, and is very addictive.

In fact, one vape tested contained 11 times more nicotine than the legally permitted amount of 20 milligrams per milliliter of liquid. Westerink: “If you keep smoking such a vape continuously, and would finish it in one go, it is without a doubt serious for your health and it could even be deadly.”

“This is unbelievable”

Esther Croes, a tobacco expert at the Trimbos Institute, is “horrified” by these numbers. “20 milligrams, the legal maximum and intended for smokers, is already bizarre for children. But these vapes are also much larger than allowed and have much more nicotine. That’s indescribable. And then they are also produced and sold in an attractive form to children.”

The Trimbos Institute knows from questionnaire surveys that many Dutch youths vape and foreign research recently revealed that there may be harmful substances in vapes. Croes states that RTL News’ research “brings these two data together for the first time.

“Now it is rock solid evidence that the vapes used by Dutch children also contain so many harmful substances. Heavy metals, huge amounts of nicotine, and other toxic and carcinogenic substances. Your research shows that Dutch children are poisoning their bodies and brains with these vapes.”

Lead found in three vapes

In addition to the large amounts of nicotine, toxicologist Westerink calls it extremely problematic that lead was found in the vapes used by children. “Lead is a heavy metal, a toxic substance which is particularly harmful to the development of the brain. In addition, it can cause a decrease in IQ of up to five points. You really don’t want this in vapes.”

Possibly the lead is released through the heating coil, wires, and solder joints in the vape, explains researcher Tom Coleman of the Inter Scientific laboratory: “For example, some solder in vapes is of a cheaper, poorer quality with more lead. We typically see that in vapes from manufacturers from China.”

Also formaldehyde: a carcinogen

The substance formaldehyde, normally used as a disinfectant, is also likely to be released during the burning process in the vape. The aggressive substance was found in 7 of the 20 vapes examined. Westerink: “This is dangerous. At high doses, this is a carcinogenic substance that can damage cells. Of course, you don’t want children to ingest this either. Even at low doses, it can cause respiratory irritation and inflame the airways.”

Toxicologist Jan Tytgat also looked at the research results at the request of RTL News. Working at the Belgian University in Leuven and specializing in e-cigarettes, he also states that formaldehyde is a carcinogen. He additionally calls it a substance of concern “that you should absolutely avoid.”

According to him, the same goes for the other substances found in the vapes: “Nickel can cause all kinds of allergies. Acrolein is an irritant to the skin and lungs. And acetone can cause headaches, confusion, and a feeling of unease.”

In addition, all of the vapes examined had a larger capacity than allowed by law. Simply put, a vape may hold 600 puffs, but all the vapes examined were well above that. Some even had 15,000 puffs.

Westerink calls the research “an eye opener”: “Despite the ban, these flavored vapes can still be found in the schoolyard. That it now turns out that there are these harmful substances in there, sometimes in high quantities, hopefully, helps raise awareness that a vape is not a safe but an extremely undesirable product.”

“We must protect children to the maximum”

Esther Croes of Trimbos agrees: “These are substances that can turn your body upside down for the rest of your life because they can cause damage in all sorts of places in your body. Together we must protect children to the maximum and do everything we can to make them resilient. After all, our youth have a whole future ahead of them and must be able to grow up healthy. These results emphasize that we do have a real problem in the Netherlands.”

Source: RTL.