A study of the American Lung Association has just reminded us of the risks linked to the inhaling of diacetyl which is present in e-liquids. The harmfulness of diacetyl is well known and many reports of health agencies have talked about it in the past. However, it is not necessary to overestimate the risks for vaping fans, especially on the French market.
Diacetyl is a natural molecule which can be found in several plants. It is used as a food additive to add a buttery or caramelized flavors to some products. We can find this molecule in popcorn but its consumption is not harmful for the public health.
It is however very dangerous when inhaled. Highly toxic, it can lead to serious lung injuries and cause obliterative bronchiolities. This disease is also known as « popcorn lungs ». A study that was carried out in 2000 concluded that 8 workers from a microwave popcorn factory had developed the disease symptoms due to their inhaling of diacetyl. Since then, measures have been taken to limit repeated exposures to this component.
Use of diacetyl in e-liquids
In the early 2000s, diacetyl was used by American e-liquid manufacturers. Their goal was to add some flavor to their custard, pies or other dessert e-liquids.
The dosages used are controlled and significantly under the toxic line of 22ppm. In 2015, a study done by some Harvard searchers confirmed that diacetyl was present in 75% of the e-liquid refills. But without reaching a content that would be harmful.
Diacetyl is therefore not a true risk for vapers. And it is even more true for French users. In France, the use of diacetyl in e-liquids has been regulated by an Afnor norm since May 2015. Almost all French manufacturers have followed this recommendation, as pulmonologist Bertrand Dautzenberg explained to the « Sciences et Avenir » French magazine in December 2015.