Health & Spirit

Eke! Cigs

Scott LaFee on

Electronic cigarettes contain a number of chemicals known to be harmful, most notably nicotine, heavy metals and compounds such as diacetyl, a flavorant linked to serious lung disease.

A new study out of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found a few other worrisome ingredients: bacterial and fungal toxins. Researchers examined 75 popular e-cigarette products and found almost one-quarter contained traces of endotoxin, a microbial agent found on Gram-negative bacteria, and 81% contained traces of glucan, a cellular component of most fungi. Exposure to these microbial substances is associated with numerous human health issues such as asthma, reduced lung function and inflammation.

Contamination could have occurred at any point during production of the ingredients or of the finished e-cigarette products, said the scientists. They hypothesized that cotton wicks used in e-cigarette cartridges may be a potential source of contamination, as both endotoxin and glucan are known contaminants of cotton fibers.

Body of Knowledge

The pupil of the human eye responds to more than just changing light stimuli. It dilates to unexpected sounds, emotional stress and mental exertion. In the last case, researchers found that the pupils of more intelligent people (based on SAT scores) dilated less in response to cognitive tasks than those of lower-scoring participants, indicating more efficient use of brainpower.

Get Me That, Stat!


When people die, they leave lots of things behind, from old diaries and photos to, well, their modern-day version: the Facebook page. These pages live on. In fact, Oxford University researchers recently estimated that by 2070, the number of deceased Facebook "users" will outnumber the living. By 2100, it might number 1.4 billion computerized corpses.


5,564: Number of registered hospitals in the United States

2,845: Number that are nonprofit community hospitals


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