Asthma-causing microbes contaminate e-cigarettes

04/27/2019 03:00 | NaN

Asthma-causing microbes contaminate e-cigarettes

The authors of the study have noted that contamination of the e-cigarettes could have happened any time between the manufacturing and the actual use of the product.

Exposure to the toxins has been associated with a host of health problems, including asthma, impaired lung function and inflammation, according to the researchers.

They found impurities associated with conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease were present in almost a quarter of all single-use e-cigarette cartridges.

That e-cigarette you're puffing on could be contaminated, according to a newly released study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

This stance is coming under mounting criticism, however, from scientists who say it is too early to know the true dangers of vaping.

Now, Professor of Environmental Genetics, David Christiani, and colleagues have tested 75 popular products from ten leading e-cigarette brands, including 37 single-use cartridges (also called "cigalikes") and 38 e-liquids (which are used to refill cartridges). Scientists who tested 75 cartridges and refill fluids found that 27 per cent of those tested contained the toxins.

"Additional research is needed to confirm our findings and assess potential exposures and health effects in [e-cigarette] users", the authors wrote.

The vaping device is often used as a stepping stone to giving up smoking, but one of the authors of the report, Mi-Sun Lee, has said that these findings only strengthen the argument for stronger e-cigarette regulation. Though they're considered a less harmful alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes, an increasing number of non-smokers have started using 'vapes, ' raising concerns over a new generation that faces nicotine addiction and potential vaping-related health issues.

These products were divided into four different flavour categories: tobacco, menthol, fruit, and other; before being screened for the presence of endotoxin and glucan.

"In addition to inhaling harmful chemicals, e-cig users could also be exposed to biological contaminants like endotoxin and glucan", Lee said in the statement.

Boxplots showing the median (horizontal line in box), interquartile range (the central rectangle), and the fifth and the 95th percentiles (whiskers above and below the box) of endotoxin and glucan levels by e-cigarette type and flavor.

The study also found that endotoxin concentrations were higher in fruit-flavoured products, indicating that raw materials used in the production of flavours might be a source of microbial contamination. One potential source, for example, is the cotton wicks used in the cartridges, since both endotoxins and glucans are known to contaminate cotton fibers.

The findings came after the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association in October 2018 trumpeted a CDC study that the industry group said "finally debunked claims vape contains toxic formaldehyde".

Limitations of the study include the relatively small sample size.

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