Chemical Flavourings Found In E-Cigarettes Can Lead To ‘Popcorn Lung’ Disease

With e-cigarettes booming in acceptance and being advertised as a healthier alternative to classic smoking, experts have already been examining the compounds utilized in vaping to identify any health threats that were associated.

Chemical Flavourings Found In E-Cigarettes Can Lead To 'Popcorn Lung' DiseaseDiacetyl, a flavoring chemical linked to cases of severe respiratory disease (eg., bronchiolitis obliterans) was found in more than 75 percent of flavored electronic cigarettes and refill liquids tested by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The unbearable lung problem turned commonly known as ‘popcorn worker’s lung’ – back in the early 2000s, when it first appeared in food-industry when workers inhaled artificial flavouring in microwave popcorn processing facilities.

When airborne diacetyl is inhaled from the flavouring over a long period of time, the chemical can reduce air flow in the lungs by obstructing passageways called bronchioles. The substance is most risky to those who find themselves confronted with diacetyl constantly on the job, though there’s been one or more case regarding much consumer of microwave popcorn who used multiple bags of the meals daily for over a decade.

Chemical Flavourings Found In E-Cigarettes Can Lead To 'Popcorn Lung' Disease

Recognition of the hazards associated with inhaling flavouring chemicals started with ‘popcorn lung’ over a decade ago. However, diacetyl and other related flavouring chemicals are used in many other flavours beyond butter-flavoured popcorn, including fruit flavours, alcohol flavours, and, we learned in our study, candy flavoured e-cigarettes,” said Joseph Allen, an exposure assessment expert at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

With over 7,000 varieties of tasting e-cigarettes and e-juice (utilized in refillable vaping products) on the market, it’d be close to impossible to test them. For this study, Allen and his staff selected 51 forms of tasting e-cigarettes marketed by seven different models, choosing flavours predicated on their potential appeal to children and young adults. Each item was injected into a sealed chamber attached with a lab-developed unit that attracted on oxygen at the same time through the e-cigarettes for 8 seconds.

Chemical Flavourings Found In E-Cigarettes Can Lead To 'Popcorn Lung' DiseaseEvaluation of the air stream revealed that diacetyl was present in 39 of the 51 flavors tested. While screening for acetoin’s presence and 2,3- pentanedione two different flavouring compounds that possibly offer a respiratory hazard at work – at least one of the three chemicals was detected in 47 of the 51 flavours tested.

As an after thought, the findings tell us more about the potential dangers of e-cigarettes, but they also highlight how we’re really only beginning to understand the health implications of this comparatively new drug choice. While the sample size in this study is comparatively small – just 51 flavours out of more than 7,000 on the market, and only representing products from nine brands  – It’s definitely something to think about if you choose to vape because you believe that you’re not harming your body.

Since most of the health concerns about e-cigarettes have focused on nicotine, there is still much we do not know about e-cigarettes. In addition to containing varying levels of the addictive substance nicotine, they also contain other cancer-causing chemicals, such as formaldehyde, and as our study shows, flavouring chemicals that can cause lung damage,” said one of the researchers, David Christiani.

  • Kevin Busey

    You can not compare the amount of chemicals that a person working at a popcorn plant inhaled compared to the amount a person who vapes inhaled. E-cigarette users believe the products help them transition away from smoking regular cigarettes, but other studies have suggested they might provide a gateway to smoking for others

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