Flavored Vape Chemicals Cause Popcorn Lung: It Can Kill You

The center for disease control note 530 confirmed vaping illnesses, most misdiagnosed as pneumonia. Eight are dead.
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Just a bit ago, I wrote 530 Confirmed Vaping Illnesses, Most Misdiagnosed as Pneumonia.

In response, a reader suggested that I should do a search for "Popcorn Lung".

He said that if I did, I may never eat microwave popcorn again.

Intrigued about microwave popcorn, a search lead me to this Harvard University Study: Chemicals linked with severe respiratory disease found in common e-cigarette flavors

Diacetyl, a flavoring chemical linked to cases of severe respiratory disease, was found in more than 75% of flavored electronic cigarettes and refill liquids tested by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Two other potentially harmful related compounds were also found in many of the tested flavors, which included varieties with potential appeal to young people such as Cotton Candy, Fruit Squirts, and Cupcake.

The study will be published online December 8, 2015 in Environmental Health Perspectives and will be available here after the embargo lifts: .

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the flavoring industry have warned workers about diacetyl because of the association between inhaling this chemical and the debilitating respiratory disease bronchiolitis obliterans, colloquially termed “Popcorn Lung” because it first appeared in workers who inhaled artificial butter flavor in microwave popcorn processing facilities.

“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.

There are currently more than 7,000 varieties of flavored e-cigarettes and e-juice (liquid containing nicotine that is used in refillable devices) on the market.

Allen and colleagues 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 are listed as “high priority,” i.e. they may pose a respiratory hazard in the workplace, by the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association. Each e-cigarette was inserted into a sealed chamber attached to a lab-built device that drew air through the e-cigarette for eight seconds at a time with a resting period of 15 or 30 second between each draw. The air stream was then analyzed.

At least one of the three chemicals was detected in 47 of the 51 flavors tested. Diacetyl was detected above the laboratory limit of detection in 39 of the flavors tested. Acetoin and 2,3-pentanedione were detected in 46 and 23 and of the flavors, respectively.

Study Conclusion June 2016

"Because of the associations between diacetyl and 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."

WTF Moment

This is one of those WFT moments in more ways than one.

  1. That article was from 2015. Why did it take years for doctors to figure this out in 2019.
  2. More importantly, why didn't the FDA ban those chemicals.
  3. Instead of banning flavors, why not ban cancer-causing agents?

Federal Death Agency

Perhaps we should rename the FDA, Federal Death Agency for delaying products that can save lives and not banning substances known to be hazardous.

I would love to take credit for that term but I was at a conference a few years back in which Doug Casey gave a speech on that topic.

I smell lawsuits and lots of them over this fiasco.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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