Department Chair

Kimberly Bagley, Ph.D.

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Forensic Science, M.S.


Chemistry Department


Jinseok Heo

First Reader

Jinseok Heo

Second Reader

Kimberly Bagley

Third Reader

Joonyeong Kim


The International Tobacco Control (ITC) Policy Evaluation Project 4-Country Survey, which this thesis is a part of, aims to compare policies and electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) products between the United States, England, Canada, and Australia. Since they can pose many serious health risks, this thesis investigated the presence of and source of heavy metals, including lead, nickel, chromium, and cadmium, in ENDS e-liquids. The source of these metals in ENDS e-liquids has been disputed between cultivated tobacco used to derive nicotine and the metal parts of ENDS devices. ENDS purchased in 2017 from each of the four countries of interest, including e-liquid from a refill bottle (open-system) and e-liquid extracted from prefilled ENDS devices (closed-system), were tested via electrothermal atomic absorption spectroscopy (ETAAS). Only United States and England closed-system samples were tested as closed-system samples from Canada and Australia were consumed prior to analysis. It was found that open-system e-liquids do not show quantifiable levels of the metals of interest, and that metal concentrations in closed-system e-liquids depend on country of origin, product brand, and e-liquid flavor. To study the sources of metals in e-liquids, a closed-system product was deconstructed, its parts were submerged in blank e-liquid, and samples were tested periodically for evidence of leaching via ETAAS. Nickel, chromium, and cadmium were not found in quantifiable levels, but one metal part was found to be a source of lead. This thesis provides supporting evidence that metals leach into e-liquids from metal parts of ENDS devices.