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Microbial Toxins Found in Electronic Cigarette Products

Last Updated: May 03, 2019.

Electronic cigarette products may be contaminated with microbial toxins, according to a study published online April 24 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

FRIDAY, May 3, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Electronic cigarette (EC) products may be contaminated with microbial toxins, according to a study published online April 24 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Mi-Sun Lee, from Harvard University in Boston, and colleagues examined whether the most popular cartridge (37 products) and e-liquid (38 products) EC products are contaminated with endotoxin or glucan and whether contamination differs by the type and flavor of products. An endotoxin-specific kinetic turbidimetric assay and a Glucatell Kinetic Assay (Associates of Cape Cod Inc.) were used to measure endotoxin and glucan, respectively.

The researchers found that endotoxin concentrations were over the limit of detection (LOD) in 17 of 75 products tested (23 percent), and glucan concentrations were greater than the LOD in 61 of 75 products (81 percent). The mean glucan concentration was 3.2 times higher in cartridge versus e-liquid samples after adjustment for brand and flavor. Glucan concentrations in tobacco- and menthol-flavored ECs were 10.4 and 3.5 times higher than concentrations found in fruit-flavored products when adjusting for brand and type of product.

"Further studies with large representative samples of products are needed to confirm our findings, identify sources and routes of contamination, and evaluate health effects associated with the use of contaminated products," the authors write.

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