A former executive with the Juul e-cigarette company claims the company knowingly put contaminated pods on the market for consumers. A representative for Juul asserts that the claims are baseless. According to researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, however, an unrelated study revealed that Juul liquids were contaminated with glucan. Chronic exposure to the microbial toxin can lead to long-term lung damage.

Contamination Claims

A former finance executive with Juul claims in a lawsuit filed for wrongful termination that e-cigarette company Juul shipped flavored pods it knew were contaminated. The man asserts that the company was aware that contaminated nicotine solution had been used in its mind-flavored pods and still allowed approximately one million tainted pods to remain on the market. Juul did not notify consumers or issue a recall. In the former exec’s legal action, he also reported the company resold pods that were almost one year old and refused to include an expiration date for the e-cigarette liquid. Juul does not provide a best by date or indicate to consumers how quickly pods should be used, but rather, says they are intended for use shortly after purchase.

Juul’s Response

A spokesperson for Juul acknowledged the company was aware of the manufacturing issue but determined that the products met the necessary specifications. Juul’s CEO at the time the allegedly tainted pods were put on the market called the former executive’s claims false and argued the company emphasized product quality under his direction. According to the company’s website, Juul performs chemical testing on every lot of e-liquid it puts out and its production facilities are certified in compliance with the international manufacturing standards.

Potential Risks for Consumers

Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, however, analyzed the pods and 46% of Juul products that were tested contained glucan. Vaping pods with contaminants may lead to a range of health problems for consumers. The health risks associated with e-cigarette use include:

  • Severe lung disease
  • Acute nicotine poisoning
  • Chemical pneumonia
  • Endothelial cell damage or dysfunction
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Cancer

While people may suffer these potential health complications as a result of using non-tainted e-cigarettes, the inhalation of unknown contaminants in tainted pods may increase their risk of developing these or other serious medical problems. Further, research has not ruled out the link between e-cigarette liquids and EVALI, or e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury.