Certain E-Cig Juices Cause Popcorn Lung

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Photo by Vaping360

Vaping. On one hand I fully respect and want to see it thrive, this being due to my firm belief that it really is better than smoking and yet so far, it is less corrupt. Many anti-vaping articles are sponsored by Big Tobacco (yet another reason I can dig the vape). But what I don’t like is that it does, for some people, seem to offer a false sense of hope. Your lungs are pretty darn central to your life, so really, putting anything in them that’s not air is probably not a good idea.

In a new study, Harvard researchers found that certain vaping juices cause what is known as “popcorn lung.” I probably don’t need to tell you that popcorn lung is bad, I mean with a name like that, I’m not sure it could be anything less than terrifying and awful. The name essentially comes from a case of popcorn butter makers in Missouri. The employees made the artificial butter which people “used” to put on their popcorn (I said “used” because I sort of hope the world is a little better place now). The creation of this artificial butter caused them to breath in a chemical known as Diacetyl, which causes bronchitis obliterans, a degenerative respiratory illness that often means having a lung transplant. Bronchitis obliterans is another term for “popcorn lung.” So yeah, it’s awful and terrible. You don’t want to risk needing a lung transplant if you don’t have to, that just makes sense.

The Harvard study found that of 51 flavored e-cig juices tested, an astounding 75% contained Diacetyl. Yep, people in the 75% lottery for these e-cig juices are mainlining what those workers were inhaling back at the artificial popcorn butter factory in Missouri. And no, e-cig juices, so long as they don’t contain nicotine (and they don’t have to) can be sold to children in many states. In many cases, you choose the juice you want, then you choose the level of nicotine you’d like in it, which can be as low as none, or as high as 24mg. The study was published by the researchers here.


At least one flavoring chemical was detected in 47 of 51 unique flavors tested. Diacetyl was detected above the laboratory limit of detection 39 of the 51 flavors tested, ranging from < limit of qualification (LOQ) to 239 μg/e-cigarette. 2,3-pentanedione and acetoin were detected in 23 and 46 of the 51 flavors tested at concentrations up to 64 and 529 μg/e-cigarette, respectively.

There doesn’t seem to be a list of which juices contained it, other than naming cotton candy, ‘Fruit Squirts,’ and cupcake.” With so many different local makers, it would be difficult to decipher such information anyways. One “cotton candy” in your town might be different than at another vape juice store.

Again, vaping probably is better. A U.K. study has vaping at 95% better than smoking. While that number may be wildly heavy handed, it is likely somewhat true. But putting anything foreign in the lungs is a bad idea in general.

My straight shooter opinion? If you are trying to kick a smoking habit, it sounds like a great path. If you just think vaping looks trendy and spirited and entertaining, find another outlet and skip inhaling anything other than good old fashioned air into your amazing powerful lungs.

Photo by Vaping360