Is Vaping Pot Worse Than E-Cigs?

Michigan researchers study this question and other health and science topics
vaping pot
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As part of our ongoing Science Mitten series, this month, we’re highlighting studies at University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University. At these schools, researchers are exploring if vaping pot is worse than vaping tobacco products, developing new eco-friendly ways to fortify paper for food and drink products, and exploring the benefit of zinc supplements for those who have had COVID and are trying to conceive.

Is Vaping Pot Worse than E-Cigs? 

Teens who inhale cannabis via vape pens are more likely to develop breathing problems than those who vape tobacco products or even those who smoke either cigarettes or marijuana joints, according to research appearing in the Journal of Adolescent Health this spring led by University of Michigan nursing professor Carol Boyd. Kids who vaped pot were twice as likely to report “wheezing and whistling” in their chests than those who did not. Boyd says the researchers were surprised by the findings and stressed that smoking anything is dangerous and unhealthy for developing bodies. 

Eco-friendly Coating to Reduce Microplastics 

A team at Michigan State University has developed a new way to fortify paper for food and drink products without using harmful plastics that eventually end up polluting the world’s waterways. The new coating, which is patent-pending and was first reported in the Journal of Applied Polymer Science, is formulated with a variety of biodegradable or eco-safe chemicals that include an oil used in contact lenses and a substance derived from shellfish. When it breaks down, it turns into water, carbon dioxide, and other inert molecules, which is different than the waxy plastic coating on most commonly available paper plates and cups that breaks down into microscopic beads of plastic that plague the environment. The new formulation also makes the underlying paper easily recyclable, according to lead researcher Muhammad Rabnawaz, a professor in the School of Packaging. 

From COVID to Zinc 

Male and female COVID-19 sufferers and survivors trying to conceive babies may benefit from taking zinc supplements to boost fertility and prevent damage to the egg or sperm, Wayne State University researchers reported in the journal Reproductive Sciences. Fighting the coronavirus can result in zinc depletion, and that can interfere with conception, according to findings from obstetrics associate professor Husam Abu-Soud, who led the research. Zinc may also lessen pregnancy complications, Abu-Soud’s team found. 

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Steve Friess is news and features editor at Hour Detroit and a contributing writer for Newsweek. A Long Island native who earned a journalism degree at Northwestern University, Friess worked at newspapers in Rockford, Illinois, Las Vegas, and South Florida before launching a freelance career in Beijing, China, where he served as chief China correspondent for USA Today. After his return to the U.S. in 2003, he settled in Las Vegas, where he covered the gambling industry and the American Southwest regularly for The New York Times, Playboy, The New Republic, Time, Portfolio, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, New York magazine, and many others. During that time, he created and co-hosted two successful and groundbreaking podcasts, the celebrity-interview show The Strip and the animal affairs program The Petcast. In 2011-12, Friess landed a Knight-Wallace Fellowship for mid-career journalists at the University of Michigan. That was followed by a stint as a senior writer covering the intersection of technology and politics at Politico in Washington, D.C., In 2013, he returned permanently to Ann Arbor, where he now lives with his husband, son, and three Pomeranians. He tweets at @SteveFriess and can be reached at