The "dangers" of silica wicks
Hi, folks. Occupational health and safety professional here.
I post a lot of questions about vaping here, because as you can see, I'm new. I don't know anything about vaping.
One thing I do know, however, is occupational health and safety, which is the field from which the scientific background comes that has deduced the dangers of inhaling silica into the lungs. So I thought I'd give a little back to the community and post what I know.
1) The primary health hazard of silica is silicosis. This is a disease that will probably kill you. I am not saying silica wicks cause silicosis. Your lungs contain macrophages. Tiny police in your lungs that trap particles and intruders, and try to expel them through your lungs natural elevator system. However, when macrophages get their hands on silica crystals, they lodge themselves in the wall of the lung, and can't let go. The macrophages die, and you're left with scars. Over the course of many years, the scars caused by the crystals make lung function decline, resulting in the diagnosis of silicosis. Silicosis is not reversible and there is no cure. Again, I am not saying that silica wicks cause silicosis.
2) There's two types of silica in regards to causing silicosis. Crystalline silica is the material that causes this disease. Amorphous silica does not. Someone mentioned the health effects of "glass silica" entering the lungs. If these wicks are indeed made from glass, they are by nature *not* crystalline silica. Glass is an amorphous material.
3) A reader thought that silica was the cause of some lung issues they were experiencing after vaping for a month or so. Unlikely. Silicosis takes many, many (10 - 30) years to develop. There is no instant effect.
4) Most occupational exposures to silica that result in silicosis are from sawing or drilling things like concrete that contains silica, working with certain types of insulation etc. These occupations are 5 days a week of MASSIVE amounts of crystalline silica hanging in the air. This is not to make light of the inherent dangers of crystalline silica, just to give you a comparison of what people who really do get the disease are exposed to.
5) Someone mentioned that putting a cotton or cloth pad between you and the wick might save you from the perceived danger of the silica wick. No. You need what is referred to as a P100 filter to contain the tiny particles that crystalline silica would produce.
6) I don't know if the silica wicks are amorphous or crystalline. This is something I'd need to find out.
Last edited by Litcube; 02-04-2013 at 11:09 PM.
Slighly scared now .......puts ecig down and looks at it ominously :-(
good start to a nice piece of research. something worth looking into. although the wick is a carrier of the juice to the atomizer. which is 'boiled' and creates a breathable vapor. were not eating wicks or anything here. could the wick in question become such threat when used in this manor? how tiny of a particle if any are released from the juice carrying wick into the vapor being inhaled. inconclusive yet a great beginning to what i believe in my own opinion would be worth while research. thanks for the input thus far.
the danger present with wicks (if any at all) would be in shard form as they break up and deteriorate from constant cooking. most of the fear is that shards are being deposited into the membrane of the mouth and throat.
there are a few posts that supposedly show this deterioration but i have the feeling this is more abuse then regular usage as the coil area is 3-4 mm wide and for any meaningful amount of wick deterioration to occur the wick would be degrading to a non useful state within days if not hours, not weeks upon weeks as many clearomizers and coils can last.
after a few scares whe i started i continually check from time to time on my own wicks and usually there is no significant deterioration of the wick other then slight charring within the coil wrap. i have heads in my nova last well into the 8 week range and if the degradation was as intense as some would like to believe this would be impossible.
everyone's usage and mileage will vary.
just like the Pg controversy this subject floats through here about once a month, and there are literally millions of vapors world wide using silica for years now and we would see an epidemic of reports if this or any other real problems with wicks manifested itself by now.
Last edited by Thrasher; 02-04-2013 at 11:22 PM.
That was mostly just gibberish, don't be scairt.
Originally Posted by Fishtec
It was? How so?
Originally Posted by gthompson
lol, mostly gibberish? I see zero gibber.... I think it's a valid concern, and while there might not be any need to freak out, it's worth looking into.
Originally Posted by gthompson
Thank you VERY much for chiming in on this topic.
Originally Posted by Litcube
I would love to see any further information you have or later come up with.
Speculation and fear mongering.
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