Diacetyl is a chemical frequently used in the production of food to create a creamy or buttery flavor. While it is considered to be safe to eat or drink when used in food and beverages, Diacetyl may present significant health risks when inhaled through vaporization products such as e-cigarettes.
Diacetyl is believed to contribute to a serious condition known as Bronchiolitis Obliterans, commonly referred to as “popcorn lung” due to its discovery in workers who manufacture microwave popcorn. Popcorn lung may sound like a benign condition, but it carries some significant and irreversible health risks. When Diacetyl is inhaled, it causes a scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs, causing them to thicken and restrict the airways. People diagnosed with popcorn lung suffer from multiple symptoms, including:
- Chronic and persistent dry cough
- Wheezing and shortness of breath
- Difficulty catching breath after physical exertion
In addition to the risks associated with inhalation, Diacetyl can irritate the eyes and nose and cause exposed skin to crack and develop a rash. Diacetyl has even been shown to worsen the effects of an abnormal brain protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
While most major popcorn manufacturers removed Diacetyl from their products, the chemical is still used by many e-liquid companies for use in e-cigarette flavoring. A 2015 study performed at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that Diacetyl – in addition to other potentially hazardous chemicals such as Acetoin and 2,3 Pentanedione – was detected in 47 of the 51 flavors tested. Electronic cigarettes are still a relatively new product with minimal research done on the long-term health risks associated with the devices. Concerns over the use of Diacetyl in e-liquid have caused many health professionals to question the risks e-cigarettes present, especially due to their popularity among teens.
Wexler Wallace is currently investigating claims on behalf of clients who have been diagnosed with Diacetyl-induced popcorn lung. If you believe your popcorn lung is a result of exposure to Diacetyl, contact us today for a free case evaluation.