The Fungi At Harvard

Posted 26th April 2019 by Dave Cross
Popular electronic cigarette products sold in the U.S. were contaminated with bacterial and fungal toxins, according to a new study led by Professor David Christiani. The statement runs contrary to the reports conclusion that only says, “may be contaminated”.

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health are the people who brought you scare stories about flavours and aldehydes in 2017, then more warped worries about formaldehyde in 2018, and utter nonsense about popcorn lung in February.

It claims to bring together, “dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere.”

The study, published this week in Environmental Health Perspectives, was conducted by Christiani, Mi-Sun Lee, Joseph Allen – Allen being one of the participants in the aforementioned popcorn lung work, which appeared to amount to nothing more than a sponsored hit job on tobacco harm reduction and vaping.

The authors demonstrate bias from the outset when they write: “Previous research from Harvard Chan School has shown that chemicals linked with severe respiratory disease are found in common e-cigarette flavours.”

The team tested 37 cigalikes and 38 e-liquid refills from the 10 top-selling U.S. brands. They claim: “The findings showed that 17 of 75 products (23%) contained detectable concentrations of endotoxin and that 61 of 75 products (81%) contained detectable concentrations of glucan.”

Christiani, the Elkan Blout Professor of Environmental Genetics and senior author of the study, said: “Airborne Gram-negative bacterial endotoxin and fungal-derived glucans have been shown to cause acute and chronic respiratory effects in occupational and environmental settings. Finding these toxins in e-cigarette products adds to the growing concerns about the potential for adverse respiratory effects in users.”

The press release accompanying the report says: “The researchers noted that the contamination of the products could have occurred at any point during the production of the ingredients or of the finished e-cigarette product. They hypothesized that cotton wicks used in e-cigarette cartridges may be one potential source of contamination, as both endotoxin and glucan are known contaminants of cotton fibres.”

Mi-Sun Lee added: “In addition to inhaling harmful chemicals, e-cig users could also be exposed to biological contaminants like endotoxin and glucan. These new findings should be considered when developing regulatory policies for e-cigarettes.”

Hidden away from the press release and not mentioned during interviews, the report states: “No scientific evidence supports a hypothesis that current observed levels of endotoxin and glucan in [electronic cigarettes] raise health concerns.”

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, is reported as stating the results were “interesting”, but pointed out that different and stricter regulations operate in the United Kingdom: “We do need to keep adding to our knowledge on the long-term effects of e-cigarettes, however we know that vaping is 20 times less harmful than smoking.”

 

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 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker