“Finding these toxins in e-cigarette products adds to the growing concerns that we have about the safety of e-cigarettes,” said Dr. David Christiani, study author and professor of environmental genetics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public in Boston.
The researchers examined 75 popular e-cigarette products — 37 single-use cartridges and 38 e-liquids from 10 top selling U.S. brands. The products were classified into four different flavor categories: tobacco, menthol, fruit, and other; and screened for the presence of endotoxin and glucan, toxic inflammatory substances that damage the lungs.
They found that 17 of 75 products, 23%, contained traces of endotoxin, a potent inflammatory molecule found in bacteria, and 61 of 75 products, 81%, contained traces of glucan, a toxic substance found in the cell walls of most fungi. Exposure to these microbial toxins has been associated with a myriad of health problems, including asthma, reduced lung function, and inflammation.