Posted March 20, 2018 by Daniel Archibald-Jones in Information & Articles

Does Vaping Cause Popcorn Lung?

Does Vaping Cause Popcorn Lung

Despite vaping being widely considered a far safer alternative to tobacco products, there has recently been some concern that inhaling e-liquid may cause popcorn lung.

For those unaware of this ailment, popcorn lung was the nickname applied to an outbreak of serious lung disease at a US popcorn factory back in the early 2000’s. It was found that several workers fell terminally ill because of exposure to flavouring chemicals that carried dangerous quantities of diacetyl – a chemical notorious for causing lung damage.

Now there is concern that some e-liquids may also use diacetyl in their manufacturing process, meaning that some vapers could be directly inhaling this dangerous chemical straight into their lungs.

As would be expected, this has caused plenty of rather sensationalist headlines in the popular press, but it does beg the question of how high the risks are from diacetyl to the everyday vaper?

As we’ll now explain, it is worthwhile being aware of the risk but the dangers appear to have been greatly exaggerated.

How Widely Is Diacetyl Used In E-liquids?

Before reaching for the pitchforks, be aware that diacetyl and other flavouring agents have been used in food manufacturing for decades with barely any issues.

However, the inventors never anticipated that people would start to inhale diacetyl or its close relative acetyl propionyl (AP)! The assumption has always been that if a flavouring is deemed safe for human consumption, then it must be safe to use in e-liquids.

So wide has this assumption been within the industry that some experts believe that around 70% of e-liquids worldwide contain either one or both of these ingredients.

Some companies have changed their formula, others claim that there is no proof that of a direct connection between these diketones and lung complaints. Who is right?

Better Safe Than Sorry?

So far it may appear that there’s cause for serious concern here. Yet in this case, the facts are actually pretty reassuring for once.

Tobacco smokers are proven to inhale around 100 times as much diacetyl as a matter of course than vapers. Some of them will develop popcorn lung alongside a variety of other lung based illnesses, whereas to date there has never been a single confirmed case of anyone being diagnosed with popcorn lung attributable to their vaping.

In an ideal world, most vapers would obviously prefer their e-liquids to be as natural and safe as possible, but the fact is that there is simply no causal connection between vaping and popcorn lung.

For those who still aren’t keen on using e-liquids that contain diacetyl or AP then there are plenty of manufacturers out there who specifically do not use either in their products. In fact, Diacetyl itself was banned in e-liquids in the United Kingdom by the EU Tobacco Products Directive in 2016.

Just remember that no matter what e-liquid you decide to opt for, vaping is widely regarded to be safer than smoking tobacco.

Further Reading

E-cigarettes contain flavouring chemical linked to deadly ‘popcorn lung