Jan 20, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

E-Cigarettes Linked To Popcorn Lungs, Study Suggests

Dec 09, 2015 09:58 PM EST

Research suggests that there are three in every four flavored tobaccos contain a chemical known to cause a respiratory ailment. E-cigarettes are becoming a trend these days. Just like conventional ones, these battery-activated devices produced smoke by burning a chemical containing nicotine.

Because these devices are not warranted by the United States government, experts fear of their underlying health consequences and the appeal they make to teenagers.

The study of a group of scientists from Harvard University found that enticing flavors include fruit squirts, cupcake and cotton candy. With these, they found that three-quarters of the sample tested contained diacetyl and had been associated with broncholitis obliterans.

The condition is otherwise known as 'popcorn lung.' The term was coined a decade ago following its discovery among factory workers who inhaled the artificial butter flavor of microwaveable popcorns.

The market currently has more than 7,000 flavors to choose from but only 51 are tested. These formulae are "sold by leading brands for the presence of diacetyl, acetoin and 2,3-pentanedione, two related flavoring compounds that are used as 'high priority' as they pose certain health hazards.

The experiment utilized a device that works like the human body. During smoking, the machine inhales or draws smoke  for about 8 seconds and rests between 10 and 15 seconds. The smoke was then analyzed, and the team found that at least one of the three chemicals mentioned earlier were found in 47 out of the 51 flavors scrutinized.

"Diacetyl was detected above the laboratory limit of detection 39 of the 51 flavors tested," the study published. The chemicals acetoin and 2,3-pentanedione were found in 46 and 23 flavors, respectively.

"Since most of the health concerns about e-cigarettes have focused on nicotine, there is still much we do not know about e-cigarettes. In addition to containing varying levels of the addictive substance nicotine, they also contain other cancer-causing chemicals, such as formaldehyde, and as our study shows, flavoring chemicals that can cause lung damage," co-author David Christiani said.

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