More and more smokers these days are becoming “vapers,” shifting their oral fixation and cancer-causing addiction to a seemingly safer alternative — electronic cigarettes, or “e-cigs.” While the early belief that e-cigarettes are safe has encouraged the shift to these devices for the sake of reducing and eventually quitting harmful cigarette smoking, there remains the question of whether the liquid used in these e-cigarettes is totally safe, or if it is just the “lesser of two evils.”
A recent alarming discovery was made from expert examinations of e-cigarette liquid used in the manufacturing process. The liquid, which contains dactyl, is a chemical proven to cause fatal lung disease.
This substance, despite deemed safe when eaten and generally used to give food a buttery taste, has been proven to damage lung parenchyma and cause an uncommon respiratory problem dubbed, “Popcorn Worker’s Lung” from popcorn vendors and factory workers who have been exposed excessively to diacetyl.
When inhaled in significant amounts, as what happens during e-cigarette use, one could develop this condition, which is serious enough to warrant lung transplantation, as stated by Dr. Graham Burns, a consultant physician in Respiratory Medicine at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Dr. Burns was also interviewed for Inside Out’s North East program me, as reported by the BBC. The show had tested four types of e-cig liquid in a laboratory, and a butterscotch-flavored type was found to contain the substance in question.
Shortly after BBC conducted its own investigation and publicized its findings, necessary actions have been taken to get the contaminated e-cigarette liquid off public shelves. VIP, one of the country’s most prominent e-cigarette manufacturers, is now under inspection as well.
Lynne White, the company’s head of retail distribution, commented that she was “very disappointed” this variant of e-cig liquid was still in stock, as the firm’s own testing discovered the chemical around a week before.
She said on Inside Out show: “This is our first issue in five years. We sell millions of bottles a year. We are very sorry it has happened, we are investigating how it has happened.”
This piece of news is particularly alarming considering the US CDC noted a drastic increase in e-cigarette use among middle and high school students. Even more unusual are youths using e-cigarettes without ever having smoked an actual cigarette. With all of these factors to consider, e-cigarettes may be looking at quite a longer fight for nationwide and international approval.
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