E-cigarettes are growing increasingly popular and are often mentioned as a “safer” alternative to traditional cigarettes because they contain far fewer chemicals that cause smoking-related diseases than their nicotine-filled counterparts.
However, a recent study released by the Harvard School of Public Health, reveals that this doesn’t mean the electronic smoking devices are free from harmful chemicals. According to their study published in December of 2015, 75 percent of flavored e-cigarettes and their refill liquids were found to contain Diacetyl, “a flavoring chemical linked to cases of severe respiratory disease”.
Diacetyl is a chemical that has been already associated with “Popcorn Lung”, a debilitating respiratory disease known as bronchiolitis obliterans. It is named Popcorn Lung because it first appeared in workers who inhaled artificial butter flavor in microwave popcorn processing facilities. Popcorn Lung causes scarring in the tiny air sacs in the lungs which leads to excessive coughing and shortness of breath which gets worse over time and is irreversible.
The Harvard study tested 51 types of flavored e-cigarettes and liquids sold by leading brands for the presence of diacetyl, acetoin, and 2,3-pentanedione (two related flavoring compounds that may pose a respiratory hazard in the workplace according to the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association).
Each e-cigarette was inserted into a sealed chamber attached to a lab-built device and their air stream was then analyzed. At least one of the three chemicals was detected in 47 of the 51 flavors tested.
“Recognition of the hazards associated with inhaling flavoring chemicals started with ‘Popcorn Lung’ over a decade ago. However, diacetyl and other related flavoring chemicals are used in many other flavors beyond butter-flavored popcorn, including fruit flavors, alcohol flavors, and, we learned in our study, candy flavored e-cigarettes,” said lead author Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science in a Harvard press release.
The scientists said that although there is awareness of the health hazards that nicotine poses, there isn’t as much research into the other chemicals contained in e-cigarettes, which is worrying to the scientists.
“Since most of the health concerns about e-cigarettes have focused on nicotine, there is still much we do not know about e-cigarettes,” said study co-author David Christiani, Elkan Blout Professor of Environmental Genetics. “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, flavoring chemicals that can cause lung damage.”
E-cigarettes continue to increase in popularity around the globe, but there is a lack of scientific data on their potentially negative health effects. They are not currently regulated in the U.S but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing to include e-cigarettes under its authority to regulate certain tobacco and nicotine-containing products.
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Anthony Mueller says
is dumb because I had “uncontrollable” coughing from smoking those
cheap ass cigs from the indian reservation or any other cigarettes for that matter. I quit them and went to
smoking e-cigarettes, (the e-liquid I actually mix and blend myself) and
my cough is completely gone and I am breathing better. The flavors only
contain “diacetyl” if you buy the already made flavors that people
added that stuff to it. The mixtures I make don’t contain that stuff. It
is strictly flavor concentrate(that can be added to food), PG, VG, and a
nicotine concentrate. None of which containt diacetyl or any other
added chemicals. The “only” bad thing that is in my mixture that could
affect me is “nicotine” which is already proven that it’s bad for you.
I’ll take my risk with only nicotine instead of inhaling everything else
that comes out of a regular cigarette.
Christopher Scarlatos says
I started making my own cigarettes with pipe tobacco and I am breathing better with no coughing. I did the e-cigarettes for a while and found myself using it too much.
Anthony Mueller says
Hmm, I may have to try that some time. Thanks for the information. I do find myself using the e-cig A LOT compared to when I actually smoked cigarettes. Which is also why I lowered my nicotine content in my blend for myself, but either way i’ll have to try the pipe tobacco some time and see how that goes.