Despite the fact that e-smoking is considered virtually harmless, scientists do not hurry to draw such optimistic conclusions. On the contrary, they say that the inhalation of vapor leads to a dangerous lung damage, also known as “popcorn disease.”
Vapers (i.e. those who smoke e-cigarettes) are putting themselves at risk of developing a deadly “popcorn lung disease.” Such a conclusion was made by scientists after a toxic chemical had been found in 75% of the flavorings for electronic smoking.
Diacetyl, a chemical substance used as a substitute for oil flavor in foods, has led to the development of bronchiolitis obliterans. This disease has been first found in the employees of the company manufacturing popcorn.
It is believed that diacetyl can be eaten, but the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the US says the substance is dangerous if inhaled for a long time. Diacetyl causes inflammation, scarring, narrowing of the tiny airways in the lungs, otherwise known as bronchioles. As a result, a person does not get enough oxygen. Researchers say urgent action is needed to estimate as accurately as possible the incidence of dangerous substances in the flavorings for e-cigarettes.
According to the lead researcher Joseph Allen, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, the recognition of the existence of hazards associated with the inhalation of chemicals began with the appearance of “popcorn lung disease” more than ten years ago. Nevertheless, diacetyl is used in many flavors – not only to create the smell of roasted popcorn and fruit, alcoholic beverages and confectionery flavors, but also in flavors for electronic cigarettes with the smell of candy.
Electronic cigarettes contain cartridges, which give the desired dose of nicotine. This dose is obtained by smokers due to inhaling the vapor without tar and other carcinogenic substances. Scientists and officials are still not sure whether this is safe smoking. Earlier this year, the Department of Health in England urged smokers to switch to electronic cigarettes because they are much safer than the traditional ones. However, the World Health Organization, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Liverpool staff are still concerned about the issue of safety of electronic cigarettes.
Dr. Allen and his colleagues tested 51 species of flavored cigarettes and aromatic liquids, sold by the leading brands to learn if they contain diacetyl, acetoin and 2,3-pentanedione – flavor compounds, which may pose a risk to the lungs of a smoker and those around him.
Each electronic cigarette was inserted into a sealed chamber; then a stream of air was driven through it for eight seconds. After a 15-30-second pause, the air passed through it again and then was taken for analysis.
At least one of the three chemicals was found in 47 of 51 flavors. Diacetyl was found in 39 samples; acetoin was found in 46, and 2,3-pentanedione – in 23 samples.
Co-author of the study, Dr. David Christiani, a professor of environmental genetics, says that since most of the issues related to electronic smoking are centered on nicotine, the scientists realize that they do not know much about e-cigarettes.
In addition to the fact that electronic cigarettes contain different doses of nicotine – an addictive alkaloid – they also have carcinogenic chemicals, such as formaldehyde. In addition, the study showed that the aromatic components in electronic cigarettes can be dangerous and cause damage to the lungs.
Although this study was conducted in the United States, a similar work was completed by Greek scientists last year. They found diacetyl in 70% of the flavorings offered by the European brands. Both American and European smoking liquids were available for sale.