December 9, 2015 — A study has found that 75% of flavored e-cigarettes contain the chemical diacetyl, which has been linked to a chronic respiratory illness known as “Popcorn Lung.”
A study published by the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed vapors from 51 type of flavored e-cigarettes that were sold by leading brand-names.
Diacetyl was detected in 39 out of 51 (76%) flavors tested, with amounts ranging up to 239 μg/e-cigarette. Researchers warned:
“Due to the associations between diacetyl, bronchiolitis obliterans and other severe respiratory diseases observed in workers, urgent action is recommended to further evaluate this potentially widespread exposure via flavored e-cigarettes.”
All but four of the 51 products tested contained at least one flavoring chemical linked to lung disease. The researchers also found that 23 e-cigarette products contained 2,3-pentanedione (up to 64 μg/e-cigarette) and 46 products contained acetoin (up to 529 μg/e-cigarette).
Over 7,000 e-cigarette flavors are currently on the market. Diacetyl is commonly found in fruit, alcohol, and candy-flavored e-cigarettes. Diacetyl is also an ingredient in artificial butter flavoring.
In 2004, several workers at a Missouri microwave popcorn production plant were diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans, also known as “Popcorn Lung” after routinely breathing diacetyl. This incurable illness causes excessive coughing, shortness of breath, and permanent scarring of tiny air sacs in the lungs. Symptoms may resemble Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
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