The analysis was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine last December, and co-authored by David Christiani, Elkan Blout Professor of Environmental Genetics, and Mi-Sun Lee, research associate in the Department of Environmental Health.

One of the study authors emphasized that the presence of glucan is not related in any way to the current outbreak of “vape-related” illness across the United States.

In 2018, Christiani and Lee, along with Harvard Chan School’s Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, had conducted a study that found bacterial and fungal toxins in many popular e-cigarette products sold in the U.S. However the earlier study had excluded Juul, and given its popularity the researchers decided to analyze some of its products for the current study.

A total of 54 Juul pods were tested for two types of microbial toxins: Endotoxin, a microbial agent and Glucan, a component of fungal cell walls. The researchers found that Endotoxin levels were below the limit of detection. However, 46% of the samples contained detectable levels of glucan.

The researchers said that chronic exposure to glucan can cause inflammation in the airway and lead to long-term lung damage. However, Christiani emphasized that this finding is not related in any way to the current outbreak of “vape-related” illness across the United States. The CDC has confirmed that the latter is being  caused by the consumption of illicit THC products.

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