Thursday , December 3 2020

Microbial pollutants are found in popular electronic cigarettes

Popular electronic cigarette products sold in the US are infected with bacterial and fungal toxins, according to new research by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study, which examined 75 popular e-cigarette products – single-use cartridges and electronic fluids – found that 27% contained traces of endotoxin, a microbial agent found on Gram-negative bacteria, and that 81 % contain traces of glucan found in the cell walls of most mushrooms. Exposure to these microbial toxins is associated with countless human health problems, including asthma, decreased lung function, and inflammation.

"Onboard gram-negative bacterial endotoxins and fungal-derived glucans have been shown to cause acute and chronic respiratory effects in professional and environmental conditions," said David Kristini, professor of environmental genetics and senior author of the study. "Finding these toxins in electronic cigarette products adds to the growing concern about the potential for unwanted respiratory effects in consumers."

The survey will be published online at Prospects for environmental protection on April 24, 2019.

The use of electronic cigarettes has been steadily rising in recent years, especially among secondary and secondary school students. It is estimated that more than three million high school students used electronic cigarettes in 2018 compared to 220,000 in 2011. Previous studies by Harvard Chan School show that chemicals associated with severe respiratory diseases are found in the usual smells of electronic cigarettes. In addition, research by researchers conducted for many decades shows chronic lung damage in populations exposed to biological pollutants in the air. However, according to the authors, there are no studies on the potential contamination of electronic cigarettes with germs or microbial toxins.

For this study, researchers have chosen 37 cartridges for electronic cigarettes, sometimes called "cigarettes", and 38 e-liquid products that can be used to fill some of the top 10 best-selling brands in the United States. The products are classified into four different flavor categories: tobacco, menthol, fruits and others. All products are then tested for endotoxin and glucan.

The results show that 17 out of 75 products (23%) contain detectable concentrations of endotoxin and that 61 out of 75 products (81%) contain detectable concentrations of glucan. Further analysis showed that the bulk samples had 3.2 times higher concentrations of glucan than the e-liquid samples. Glucan concentrations were also significantly higher in tobacco flavor and menthol products than in fruit-flavored products. The study also found that endotoxin concentrations were higher in fruit flavor products, indicating that the raw materials used in the production of flavors could be a source of microbial contamination.

Researchers noted that product contamination could have occurred at any time in the manufacture of ingredients or the finished product for electronic cigarettes. They suggested that cotton wicks used in electronic cigarette cartridges could be a potential source of contamination, as both endotoxin and glucan are known cotton fiber contaminants.

"In addition to inhalation of harmful chemicals, consumers of electronic cigarettes could be exposed to biological contaminants such as endotoxin and glucan," said Mi-Sun Lee, a research fellow and lead author of the report. "These new findings must be taken into account when developing regulatory policies for electronic cigarettes."

Joseph Allen, an assistant professor of exposure assessment, was also a co-author.


"Contamination of endotoxin and (1? 3) -b-D-glucan in electronic cigarette products sold in the USA" Mi-Sun Lee, Joseph Allen, David Christiani, Prospects for environmental protection, online on 24 April 2019, two: 10.1289 / EHP3469

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Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health gathers specialists from various disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve people's lives and health everywhere. As a community of leading scientists, educators and students, we work together to take innovative ideas from the lab to the lives of people – not only to make scientific discoveries, but also to work on changing individual behavior, public policies and healthcare practices. Each year, more than 400 Harvard Chan lecturers teach 1000 students from all over the world and train thousands of students through online and executive courses. Established in 1913 as a Harvard-MIT Healthcare School, the school is recognized as America's oldest public health training program.

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