Proponents of electronic cigarettes argue that the devices are much safer than smoking traditional cigarettes. However, as they gain popularity, cases of lung injuries are starting to be reported due to the chemicals used in the e-liquids. Currently there are no testing requirements or standards on liquids by the manufacturers.
An investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found diacetyl, a chemical known to destroy “the lungs’ tiniest airways, leading to scar tissue buildup that blocks airflow,” as well as a second chemical, in some locally made e-liquids. This chemical previously came to light for causing injuries and deaths to microwave popcorn workers.
Investigators looked at the link to diacetyl after an e-cigarette user was admitted to the hospital with a rare form of pneumonia and with her lungs failing. She had been vaping a sweet flavored e-liquid for several months. She was put on a ventilator for several days, but it took months before her lungs “showed normal pulmonary functioning.” According to the article, “a study of more than 150 sweet-flavored e-liquids last year found nearly 70% contained diacetyl.”
A man in another state was diagnosed with a “severe allergic reaction…related to a chemical exposure” caused by vaping cinnamon-flavored e-liquid. Inhaling strong chemicals can cause inflammation over time which can lead to permanent scarring and damage. Once the man stopped vaping, his allergy symptoms cleared up, but it took months before he had normal pulmonary function.
As of now, e-cigarette-caused illnesses are not making the headlines, but as vaping grows in popularity, especially among teens, more incidences like these reported may become news. Many teens believe the myth that they are inhaling water vapor. As more research is completed on e-liquids, other chemicals will be highlighted. For now, it seems the old saying “it’s better to be safe than sorry” would apply to e-cigarette use.
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