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Toxin In Juul Products Can Cause Long-term Lung Damage: Harvard Study

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Juul Labs' e-cigarette products were contaminated with Glucan, a microbial toxin, that can cause long-term lung damage, according to a study conducted by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study, "Microbial Toxins in Nicotine Vaping Liquids", was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. It analyzed the contents of 54 Juul pods, which are the cartridges used with e-cigarettes that contain a liquid mixture of nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals.

The analysis was for two types of microbial toxins: endotoxin, a microbial agent found on Gram-negative bacteria, and glucan, a component of fungal cell walls.

As per the research, endotoxin levels in the Juul products were below the limit of detection, but 46 percent of the samples contained detectable levels of glucan. Particularly, two flavors, tobacco and menthol, were much more contaminated with glucan than other flavors such as mango, crème, fruit, and cucumber.

The researchers said the reason for such high levels of glucan in tobacco and menthol pods could be due to the raw materials or occurring during the production process.

The researchers noted that chronic exposure to glucan can cause inflammation in the airway and lead to long-term lung damage. However, the glucan found in Juul pods is not related to the current vaping-related illness, EVALI, in the U.S.

An earlier study by the Harvard researchers had found bacterial and fungal toxins in many popular e-cigarette products sold in the U.S. in 2013, but that was before the 2015 founding of Juul, which now dominates the U.S e-cigarette market.

Juul, which is under scrutiny for popularizing e-cigarettes among teen and youth, has recently stopped the sale of e-cigarette pods in all flavors except tobacco and menthol in the United States. The states of California and New York have sued the company, which has a 64 percent market share of e-cigarettes in the country.

In early January, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes in the country, other than tobacco and menthol, to prevent the rising tide of youth vaping.

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