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E-Cigarettes Tested for Dangerous Chemicals

Posted On: 12-11-2015
E-Cigarettes Tested for Dangerous Chemicals

A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives and supported by an NIH/NIEHS Center grant reveals that a chemical that has been linked to severe respiratory disease is found in more than three quarters of electronic cigarettes and their liquid refills. The chemical is called diacetyl, and it is used for flavoring.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who tested 51 types of e-cigarettes and refill liquids. The test was performed by placing the e-cigarette into a sealed chamber and then analyzing the air stream that was collected after air was drawn through the e-cigarette.

In addition to diacetyl, two other possibly harmful compounds were often found in the products. This is especially problematic because the fruity and sweet flavors are marketed to appeal to younger consumers.

Diacetyl has been previously linked to causes of bronchiolitis obliterans, a respiratory disease also referred to as “popcorn lung,” in cases of workers at microwave popcorn facilities. The chemical is found in the popcorn’s artificial butter flavoring.

E-cigarettes are not currently regulated for safety, despite an increase in popularity. There are more than 7,000 types of flavored e-cigarettes and refills. David Christiani, a co-author of the study, warns that there is a lot of information that is not known about the safety of e-cigarettes.

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