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Inter Scientific is a laboratory which provides testing services to vape manufacturers to ensure they meet safety and regulatory standards and was co-founded by TOPRA Fellow David Lawson.

“We [at the lab] have [also] been testing vape products for BBC News [that were] confiscated from school children in the UK,” Lawson, chief executive of Inter Scientific, wrote on LinkedIn.

“It is illegal to sell vape products to children. [But] what is most worrying is the poor product quality of illegal vape products in the UK – which poses a risk to consumers.”


David Lawson

Sky News via LinkedIn

The confiscated vapes were found to contain high levels of dangerous chemicals such as lead, nickel and chromium, the Inter Scientific testing found. Results showed children could be inhaling more than double the daily limit of lead, and nine times the safety level for nickel. The World Health Organization has advised that elevated levels of lead exposure in children can affect development in the brain and elsewhere in the central nervous systems.

Most of the vapes that underwent testing were illegally sold and had not undergone any kind of test before being sold in the UK.

“None of these should be on the market – they break all the rules on permitted levels of metal. They are the worst set of results I have ever seen,” Lawson added.

One set of ‘highlighter vapes’ were found to contain metals at these levels:

  • Lead – 2.4 times safe levels (12 micrograms per gram).
  • Nickel – 9.6 times safe levels.
  • Chromium – 6.6 times safe levels.

Metals had previously been thought to originate in heating elements, but tests have shown they came from the e-liquid itself.

All e-cigarettes and e-liquids must be registered with the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). And manufacturers must follow their regulations on ingredients, packaging and marketing. But the agency has no enforcement powers over illegally made vapes.

Craig Copland, Head of e-Cigarettes at the MHRA said the regulator would review the results to consider if a risk to health was posed by the vapes.

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