Thousands of people around the world have managed to give up smoking thanks to the advent of E-cigarettes and vaping. However, as vaping is so new, little is known about its long-term effects on the body.
In recent months, the media has been full of reports about the newly discovered dangers of vaping. A few weeks ago it was all about the FDA wanting to ban fruity E-liquid flavors. This week it’s about a possible connection between vaping and seizures. As with everything when it comes to the media, it should be taken with a grain of salt, and in this instance, the case against vaping still isn’t a very solid one. However, a new study just found harmful bacteria and fungi inside some E-cigarettes, adding even more cause for concern.
The study, carried out by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is a little more worrying and has some vapers thinking twice about what they put inside their E-cigarette tanks or pods. The study looked at 75 E-cigarette products and tested them for contaminants. They found that some of the most popular E-cigarettes sold in the US contained “bacterial and fungal toxins, which have been associated with asthma, reduced lung function, and inflammation,” according to a report on the Harvard website.
The same article noted that researchers over at Harvard have previously found chemicals in E-cigarettes that are connected to respiratory diseases and breathing issues. At the same time, many years of research into exposure to airborne biological contaminants have been linked to lung issues in some people. This is the first time, however, that scientists have looked into the prospect of microbial toxins in e-cigarettes.
Of the 75 products tested by the Harvard researchers, 37 were disposable cartridges (either built into or that came with disposable vape pens.) The other 38 were refillable E-liquid devices that can be filled from a bottle (purchased separately.) The team tested E-liquids from 10 of the most popular brands for the presence of endotoxin or glucan. 25 percent of the E-cigarettes tested contained some endotoxin, and 81 percent contained traces of glucan – the former is a type of bacteria while the latter is a type of fungus.
The conclusion was that the pre-filled cartridges, or pods, had concentrations many times higher than those found in the bottled E-liquids tested. Glucan was also a lot higher in tobacco and mint flavored-products as compared with fruit-flavored E-juices. The researchers were unable to ascertain precisely at which stage the contamination occurs, but they assume it’s down to the cotton wicks inside the cartridges used to direct the E-liquid to the coil.
According to the senior author of the study, David Christiani, “It is possible that given the presence of these [materials], there may well be inflammation of the bronchial tree and the potential for airway damage with obstruction if used chronically,” he said. Additionally, Mi-Sun Lee, a research fellow, and colleague of Christiani added more fuel to the fire, “In addition to inhaling harmful chemicals, e-cig users could also be exposed to biological contaminants like endotoxin and glucan,” he said.
It remains to be seen whether or not the amounts of bacteria and fungi found in the samples tested are enough to affect humans who use E-cigarettes regularly negatively. No doubt, more studies of this type will be forthcoming in the not too distant future.