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E-cigarettes Expose Users to Damaging Chemicals

Melanie H. Muhlstock
  • Avvo
  • E-cigarette Users May Be Exposed to Dangerous Chemicals (diacatel) that Lead to Permanent Lung Damage: "POPCORN LUNG"

    Chemicals used to flavor e-cigarette liquid, such as diacetyl, as well as alpha-diketone, 2,3-butanedione, alpha-diketone, 2,3-butanedione, 2,3-pentanedione, and acetyl propionyl, are among the chemicals used to flavor e-cigarette vapor. The flavorings, which are inhaled, may be responsible for diagnoses of flavorings-related lung disease, such as bronchiolitis obliterans-also known as "Popcorn Lung"-in people exposed to them via e-cigarettes.

    Diacetyl has made headlines over its connection with the butter flavoring used in microwave popcorn as far back as 2003. The flavorings, which contained diacetyl, were inhaled by workers and, in one case a consumer, and were the subject of lawsuits and various federal regulator probes including the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in 2003-2004, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2007.

    E-cigarettes May Expose Users to Chemicals Leading to Damage

    The attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are investigating cases of bronchiolitis obliterans in individuals who are exposed to diacetyl and other chemicals through e-cigarette vapors.

    Bronchiolitis Obliterans-Popcorn Lung-and E-Cigarettes

    E-cigarettes provide the sensation of smoking traditional cigarettes due to the vapor emitted upon exhalation. The liquid in e-cigarettes is typically flavored and typically contains chemicals that include diacetyl, a chemical that many feel may be more dangerous than the chemicals to which traditional smokers are exposed.

    Konstantinos Farsalinos, a physician and researcher at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens, Greece and an e-cigarette (EC) user, was among the first researchers to expose flavoring concerns with e-cigarettes. In 2014, Dr. Farsalinos published a study that revealed most-74 percent of the 159 sweet e-cigarette flavors - contained diacetyl or acetyl propionyl, a similar chemical substitute. The research findings also revealed that nearly half of the tested products would expose users to levels that exceed recommended safety limits. In fact, the chemicals "were found in a large proportion of sweet-flavored EC liquids, with many of them exposing users to higher than allowed safety levels. Their presence in EC liquids represents an avoidable risk. Proper measures should be taken by EC liquid manufacturers and flavoring suppliers to eliminate these hazards from the products without necessarily limiting the availability of sweet flavors," the study concluded.

    In a 2015 study published online in Environmental Health Perspectives, a team of Harvard scientists discovered that candy-flavored e-cigarette liquid contains chemicals that cause bronchiolitis obliterans, according to The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-NOT the tobacco industry-and focused on the chemicals used to flavor e-cigarette liquid.

    The study revealed that 75 percent of the 51 flavored liquids tested contain diacetyl and two other harmful compounds. The flavors tested "included varieties with potential appeal to young people such as cotton candy, 'Fruit Squirts,' and cupcake." Fruit flavor diacetyl, alcohol flavor diacetyl, and candy flavor diacetyl are just some of the culprit ingredients associated with the serious lung disease. Diacetyl, acetoin, and 2,3-pentanedione are flavoring compounds that the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association list as "high priority," for respiratory hazard in the workplace, the Harvard Gazette reports.

    People who "vape"-vaping is the practice of smoking with e-cigarette devices that are flavored with liquid that emits vapor, and not smoke-inhale diacetyl on a regular basis.

    Many e-cigarette users are teenagers, and although minors may not buy traditional cigarettes, they may buy e-cigarettes in many states. At the urging of doctors and public health officials, the FDA has proposed new regulations that would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

    Dr. David Christiani, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who co-authored a paper based on the study, said that, in addition to the addictive substance nicotine, most e-cigarettes "also contain other cancer-causing chemicals, such as formaldehyde, and as our study shows, flavoring chemicals that can cause lung damage," according to Gizmodo.

    Electronic Cigarettes Can Cause Popcorn Lung Disease

    Attorney Gerard Ryan of Parker Waichman discussing some discoveries concerning flavored e-cigarettes and their possible association to a certain lung disease commonly referred to as "popcorn lung."

    Symptoms of "POPCORN LUNG" (Bronchiolitis Obliterans)

    This is a rare, irreversible, and serious obstructive lung disease that may become so severe that a lung transplant may be the only option available to patients diagnosed with the disease. The disease is known to be caused by repeated exposure to toxic gases, such as diacetyl, a component used in flavored e-cigarettes.

    Popcorn Lung occurs when the bronchioles of the lungs are blocked by the growth of fibrous tissue. This is significant given that bronchioles are the passageways in the lungs into which air moves from the nose or mouth into to the alveoli-air sacs in the lungs. These parts, or branches of the bronchi, are involved in conducing air through the respiratory system.

    The symptoms of this injury typically take place gradually-often over several months or years-becoming significantly worse over time. Sudden onset-within two to eight weeks-of severe bronchiolitis obliterans symptoms may also occur. The inflammation and scarring that occur in lungs damaged by bronchiolitis obliterans may lead to the following symptoms:

    • Dry coughing, usually without phlegm
    • Difficulty blowing air out fast; no improvement with asthma medication
    • Fatigue
    • Fever
    • Night sweats
    • Shortness of breath, especially on exertion
    • Weight loss
    • Wheezing in the absence of cold or asthma

    Various breathing and lung tests-chest X-rays, chest CT scans, pulmonary function tests, and lung biopsies-are typically conducted to make a diagnosis of bronchiolitis obliterans, which is often confused with pneumonia, asthma, or other lung disease during initial testing.

    Parker | Waichman Logo e-Cigarette Lung Victims' Legal Rights
    If you or a someone you know developed lung disease after using e-Cigarettes, you may have valuable legal rights. Please fill out the form at the right for a free case evaluation or call
    (1-800-968-7529)today for a free lawsuit case review by one of our qualified attorneys.


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