With flavoring descriptions such as “an exotic fusion of pineapple and coconut with champagne infused blueberries” and “creamy milk chocolate and rich peanut butter flavors,” who can resist the draw of e-cigarettes?
E-cigarette manufacturers have picked up on the increase of sales when there are a wide variety of flavors – more than 7,000 total so far – but public health experts are concerned with the addictive nature of nicotine in the vaping liquids, which opens the door to harmful chemicals sucked into the lungs. Many believe that e-cigarettes serve as a gateway to smoking tobacco, particularly for minors.
E-cigarettes are far from “safe,” as most users claim. According to a recent Harvard study, 39 out of 51 e-cigarette liquids tested positive for diacetyl, a chemical that has been linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, a serious lung disease where the smallest airways become blocked by scar tissue. The disease, better known as “popcorn lung,” is only treatable by lung transplant.
Diacetyl is commonly used as a flavoring agent to give products a creamy, buttery flavor. Although the FDA has declared diacetyl safe to eat, many people point to the chemical as being the culprit behind their lung disease when inhaled.
Diacetyl is prevalent in use by flavoring manufacturers, coffee roasters as well as popcorn plants, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has now published hazard guidelines for avoiding workplace exposure.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stated, “Current evidence points to diacetyl as one agent that can cause flavorings-related lung disease.”
E-cigarettes are now regulated, and chemicals put into the liquids are required to be reported to the FDA. Although many are not happy with the FDA’s decisions on regulations, others think it is a smart move that will help keep hazardous chemicals out of the lungs of both adults and our youth.