The fact is that most studies related to the safety are concentrated on the effects of nicotine, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other health risks associated with e-cigs.
A recent research conducted by the researchers from T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard has revealed that 3 out of four flavored e-cigarettes contain diacetyl, a chemical used for getting the specific flavor of electronic cigarettes.
In addition, they have also identified two other substances that have the potential to result in health problems and they were found in different flavors. What is even worse is that some flavors that are commonly used by the younger generation like fruit squirts, cupcake and cotton candy had these substances too.
This scientific study was revealed a few days ago in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal. The OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) together with the flavoring industry have issued a warning to all employees related to diacetyl because of the link between breathing in this compound and the occurrence of bronchiolitis obliterans, a respiratory disease that also goes under the name popcorn lung.
Joseph Allen, head of this study and assistant professor in the field of exposure assessment sciences says that identifying all the risks linked to inhaling flavoring chemicals was a process that lasts more than a decade and started with the observation of so-called popcorn lung condition. But, it turns out that diacetyl and few other similar flavoring chemicals are part of other flavors that are used not only in popcorn with butter aroma. Some alcohol flavors, fruit flavors and flavored e-cigs contain them too.
The e-cigarette market is constantly growing and today there are more than 6500 different types of flavored e-cigs and electronic juice refills. Even though the interest in electronic cigarettes is growing, the fact is that their influence on human health is not thoroughly researched. E-cigs are not regulated by some strict law, even though the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has requested to supervise and manage e-cigs because they can be classified as products that contain nicotine.
Joseph Allen together with his colleagues have conducted tests on 51 varieties of flavored electronic cigarettes and liquids from popular brands in order to find whether they contain diacetyl, 2,3 pentanedione and acetoin because they were linked to respiratory risk in the workplace. Every type of e-cig was placed in a special airtight chamber, part of a special device that brought air flow through the e-cig for about 8 seconds and resting period of about 20 seconds. The device was mimicking the way people use e-cigs. After that, they have analyzed the air stream.
Only 4 flavored e-cigarettes (out of 51) didn’t contain any of the aforementioned chemicals. 2,3 pentanedione was found in 23 flavors, acetoin was found in 46 flavors and diacetyl was found in 39 e-cigarette types.
David Christiani, professor of environmental genetics at Elkan Blout says that most people and scientists are focused on the effects of nicotine in e-cigarettes which gives us only one side about the overall effects of e-cigs. Besides the fact that they contain different levels of nicotine (a very addictive compound) they also come with some chemicals that can lead to different health problems including cancer and problems related to lungs.