Diacetyl in e liquid and e cigarettes

What’s This All About?

Vaping, as an industry, exploded largely due to it’s promotion as a possibly healthy replacement for seriously harmful, user unfriendly tobacco products and, as such, we have been under close scrutiny and in a great deal of media, whether from health authorities or news writers… we’ve seen both positive claims and negative.

As all seasoned vapers know, much of the negative press has been the result of sensationalism and, at times, the handiwork of charlatans (propaganda from tobacco companies, mostly).

It’s important for us, as vapers, to know our stuff, stay informed and get involved in the discussions which arise so that we can fight for our rights and acceptance for vaping.

One such debacle involved a term which gave me the creeps when I first read it: Popcorn Lung.

It sounds completely grotesque but the name comes from the fact that the first known cases of bronchiolitis obliterans / popcorn lung, were in fact documented in workers at a popcorn factory.

The basis of the debacle was a claim making rounds that popcorn lung, caused by Diacetyl exposure, could be brought about by vaping on e-juices containing the chemical compound in question.

Of course, as with so many negative claims bombarding us in the industry: the subject required further investigation.

So, Tell Us About Popcorn Lung…

In the year 2000, workers at Glister-Mary Popcorn Plant, Missouri, fell victim to an unknown disease of the respiratory system.

The symptoms involved a breakdown in lung function that when left unchecked, would likely result in the need for transplant.

On investigation, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health determined that the disease had been prompted by inordinate exposure to massive amounts of diacetyl.

A compound that was constantly being inhaled by workers in said factory.

At this point I’d like readers to take another look at the previous sentence and store the word inordinate in your mind for later reference.

But What’s All This Got To Do With Us Vapers?

Well, with all this scrutiny surrounding every ingredient in vape juice, it was only a matter of time.

A study at Harvard of 51 e-juices, turned out 39 contained Diacetyl.

On release of the results, someone else decided to kick up a fuss and cause a sensation.

Claiming that, because certain e-juices contain diacetyl, we vapers were all gonna get popcorned and end up with our names on a transplant list.

A fuss was indeed kicked up and a sensation was definitely created. Oh…how many smokers I’ve argued with, I cannot count.


So, Why Argue?

Diacetyl is a chemical compound that’s present in a whole lot more produce than just certain flavours of e-liquid.Diacetyle structure

It instills a creamy, buttery taste in things like fermented alcoholic beverages (it’s a yeast by-product, released during fermentation), buttery popcorn, margarine and just about any flavored snack with a buttery undertone.

As such, it’s been FDA tested and approved for use in flavourants as safe.

It is, however, not necessarily safe to inhale. I understand that.

I say necessarily simply because of that word I mentioned earlier, inordinate: these sick factory workers were in the business of adding powdered diacetyl to popcorn flavouring and were inhaling it in a concentrated and pure powdered form on a daily basis.

Let’s investigate further.

Diacetyl In Tobacco Products

Diacetyl Exposure from Vaping is 750 Times Lower than from Smoking and you don’t see people fussing about the diacetyl in cigarettes and the popcorn lung in smokers.

In fact, there have been no reported instances of popcorn lung in smokers.

On top of that, critical reviews on toxicology have shown that cigarette smokers are exposed to more diacetyl than those factory workers were.

Which has opened further investigation into other compounds to which said factory workers may also have been exposed.

Nevertheless, diagnosis is sketchy and therefore, the book isn’t closed.

Still, How Much Diacetyl Is In My E-juice And Should I Be Concerned?

Diacetyl is hazardous if you inhale too much, in that regard I get where the source of this claim may have been coming from.

The thing that we then need to determine is, how much Diacetyl are we vaping?

Tobacco research group 5, in their evaluation of electronic cigarette liquids, found diacetyl in about 75% of the liquids tested.

They noted that levels in liquids containing diacetyl were lower than those set by occupational safety standards and well over 100 times lower than in cigarettes!

Studies have shown that while an e-cigarette cartridge may contain about 9 micrograms, a cigarette contains about 430 micrograms. Nuff said, people!

Nevertheless, when I buy my e-liquids, I check to make sure that they don’t contain diacetyl and to be on the safe side and to back up your cause, you should try to do the same.

If the information isn’t on the vape shop, send an email to them or the manufacturer and ask the question.e liquid bottles

The Verdict

Once a claim like ‘popcorn lung for vapers’ hits the net, the damage is done.. a smoker somewhere is picking up a fag and saying “Id get popcorn lung anyway, so I might as well not bother.”

The fact is, every vaper has the choice of whether or not he’ll be vaping a diacetyl containing product. Smokers will never have that choice.

We all know from experience that negative press circulates a whole lot faster than positive and we’ll all have join forces in beating down ignorance about vaping, fueled by rash or unfounded claims.

I find it strange and infuriating that the press is so quick to damn vaping for just about every negligible ingredient factor that’s potentially harmful, when they should be over the moon about the fact that at least there is now a suitable smoking replacement that on the evidence is so much LESS dangerous.

Why put a damper on an industry that has the potential to save thousands upon thousands of lives?

Three words, sensationalism, propaganda, ignorance.

British Health and Safety has deemed vaping to be 95% less dangerous than smoking, next time the topic comes up…use this link as backup.

Remember, unlike smokers, we need to demand transparency from our industry, as well as accuracy of press: let’s stand up for what we love! Long live and keep them fog horns blowing!

Greetings Vapers! I’m a 34 year old writer, editor and massive vaping enthusiast (since 2015) based in the beautiful Helderberg region in South Africa. My passion for vaping has steadily grown since I started vaping in earnest (as has my scorn for smoking). See, I tried vaping years before that but returned to cancer sticks after a bad experience (PG sensitivity). When I finally got back on the vaping train I decided to make it my business to educate beginners and vapers in general, so that they don’t jump to the conclusions that I did. I visualise a world without cigarettes…not just for health reasons: I’m tired of picking thousands of cigarette butts up off my lawn every morning, tossed over the wall by passers by. I can’t believe I used to be one of those people!


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