Researchers in Jordan have found that shisha smokers are exposed to high levels of heavy metals found in tobacco. This contradicts the widely-held belief that smoking shisha is less harmful than cigarettes due to it ‘filtering’ through water.
Shisha, or hookah, is a way of smoking tobacco, usually sweetened with flavourings or molasses sugar, through a waterpipe. Shisha smoking originated in the Middle East, but its popularity has spread worldwide, including throughout Europe.
The study, published in the journal, BMC Public Health, analysed four tobacco samples bought at a local market in Jordan. Each sample was examined for heavy metal content, with researchers paying attention to the levels found in smoke, ash and the water container after its use.
They found that, on average, only 3% of the heavy metals present in tobacco were removed after being filtered through the water, meaning that users would still be exposed to significant levels of these toxins.
The researchers believe that their findings add to the growing evidence about the potential health hazards of smoking shisha, and want to highlight the fact that the water in shisha devices is mainly cooling the smoke rather than filtering it.
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