Diacetyl, Vaping and Popcorn Lung: What You Need To Know
Posted on November 22 2019
What is Diacetyl, anyway?
Diacetyl, otherwise known as 2,3-butanedione is a chemical compound typically added to foods to provide an intense buttery flavour. A byproduct of fermentation, diacetyl is perfectly safe to ingest orally and can be found to naturally occur in beer and heavy creams, however it has been suggested with a worrying degree of evidence to have a variety of adverse effects if it's inhaled over long periods of time. Bronchiolitis obliterans, what most people know as "popcorn lung", was first seen to have a connection with diacetyl among workers from a microwave popcorn facility in Missouri. Although it is extraordinarily rare, you have probably seen in the media over the last few years that popcorn lung is being reported to have associations with vaping and e-juices. There is no conclusive scientific evidence to speak to this as of yet, and we'd like to clear the air on this issue.
What does it have to do with e-juice?
The reason diacetyl was found in e-juices to begin with was due to it's enhancement of the juice's flavour profiles. This would normally be associated with custard and dessert flavours, although it has been found in a few others. If you noticed that some of the "creamy" juices you tried earlier in the decade aren't as creamy anymore, that's likely due to diacetyl being removed from the manufacturing process.
A study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in 2015 discovered that diacetyl was found above the laboratory limit for detection in 39 of the 51 flavours tested. To put into perspective the amount of diacetyl typically found in vapor versus cigarettes, studies have shown that diacetyl was measured at 9 micrograms when vaporized. This is just a small fraction of the 335.9 micrograms of diacetyl typically found in a single cigarette, meaning a smoker is at an exponentially higher risk of developing popcorn lung if we are to believe the current narrative.
How does this affect me, and what's being done about it?
The health scare of potentially developing popcorn lung was reason enough for the EU to ban diacetyl in all e-liquids in 2016 under the EU Tobacco Products Directive. This directive has not changed Public Health England's stance that vaping is 95% safer than smoking, which you can read about here, and Health Canada maintains that vaping is safer than smoking which you can read about here. Although we must stress again that there is no conclusive evidence to speak to the effects of diacetyl inhalation on lung function yet, many e-juice manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to remove diacetyl entirely from their juices as a precautionary measure until more research is done. We here at The Vape Company stand by the scientific community, and none of the juices we manufacture contain diacetyl. Don't just take our word for it; we encourage you to do your own research as well. We are proactively keeping up with the most current research and will keep you updated should any new developments arise.