Scientists at Harvard University are extremely concerned after their federally-funded study found dangerous lung-destroying chemicals in the liquids used for e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. The scientists say that urgent action needs to be taken.
In October, an investigation found that e-liquids contained high levels of diacetyl, as well as a related chemical. Some manufacturers claim that their products are “diacetyl-free”, when in reality they are not. It has been shown that some manufacturers of e-liquids use inadequate testing procedures.
The Harvard study focused almost entirely on the presence of diacetyl in e-cigarettes. The study was funded by a division of the National Institutes of Health. It could influence the American government in placing more restrictions on the popular products.
The researchers from Harvard found diacetyl in 39 of the 51 e-liquid samples that were tested. The samples represented every flavor offering from three prominent e-liquid companies. In addition to the diacetyl, the researchers also found dangerous flavoring chemicals, such as 2,3-pentanedione, which is a chemical cousin of diacetyl. Acetoin was also found to be present.
These chemicals are known for destroying the smallest airways of the lungs. This leads to scar tissue that builds up and blocks airflow. Ultimately, it can result in permanent and potentially fatal injuries. One particular concern is the development of a condition known as bronchiolitis obliterans.
The study concluded, “Due to the associations between diacetyl, bronchiolitis obliterans and other severe respiratory diseases observed in workers, urgent action is recommended to further evaluate this potentially widespread exposure via flavored e-cigarettes.”
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of young people using e-cigarettes tripled last year. In 2014, 13% of high school students reported that they had used an e-cigarette device within the previous 30 days. The CDC says that e-cigarettes are now more popular among young people than conventional cigarettes.
At the present time, there are no requirements for manufacturers to test their e-liquids, and there are no standards that must be met. Any testing that is conducted is done so that the manufacturers can promote the safety of their products. However, with the findings from Harvard, this could soon change.