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Vaping study from California DOH debunks ‘popcorn lung’ myth

For those considering a switch to vaping to quit smoking, the myth surrounding a lung disease called popcorn lung can sometimes delay their decision.  Otherwise known as bronchiolitis obliterans (BO), this disorder is caused from the inhaling of certain chemicals like chlorine, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and even welding fumes.  The result is a scarring of the small air passages in the lungs, and the only known cure is a lung transplant.

This myth likely got its start from a series of reports in the early days of vaping when many e-liquid manufacturers outside of the United States were using an ingredient called diacetyl which is a suspected cause of BO, as well.  Reports suggest that a few factory workers allegedly were diagnosed with popcorn lung because of the diacetyl fumes running rampant in the plant.

The story was never proven, largely because many of the factory employees settled out of court.  Another possible reason is that a surgical lung biopsy is required to achieve an accurate diagnosis. 

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Furthermore, the symptoms associated with BO are very similar to those of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), making an accurate diagnosis even more difficult. Meanwhile, the international vaping industry has adopted a self-imposed regulation to abolish the use of diacetyl in vape juice production worldwide just to be safe.

Many within the vaping community suspect that the anti-tobacco lobby along with Big Tobacco and perhaps Big Pharma intentionally falsified portions of the eyewitness accounts in an effort to damage the public reputation of vaping.  However, the notion that vaping causes popcorn lung is simply unfounded in medical research.  In fact, a recent scientific study funded and published by the California Department of Public Health completely debunks this claim. 

Overview of the California ‘popcorn lung’ study

Officials from the California Department of Public Health began their research by visiting numerous brick-and-mortar vape shops throughout the state.  By conducting air quality analysis in local shops with multiple active vapers present at the time, the scientists measured for a variety of toxins and carcinogens associated with smoking, including the following.

  • Acetaldehyde
  • Acetoin
  • Acetone
  • Acetonitrile
  • Alpha-pinene
  • Benzene
  • Chloroform
  • Diacetyl
  • D-Limonene
  • Ethyl Benzene
  • Formaldehyde
  • Glycidol
  • Methyl
  • Methacrylate
  • Methylene
  • Chloride
  • N-Hexane
  • Nicotine
  • ‘Styrene
  • Toluene
  • Xylene

What the California scientists discovered is that the air quality in each of the vape shops contained only three unusual ingredients:  ethanol alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, and small concentrations of formaldehyde that are consisted with normal, everyday air.   Studies like this are also a likely contributing factor to another widespread myth that e-cig vapor contains formaldehyde, a myth which has also been debunked scientifically, as well.

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Still, the air quality levels of each of the vape shops did not contain detectable levels of the numerous, above-listed chemicals, including diacetyl, nor any of the other known causes of the deadly disease of popcorn lung.  When Dr. Michael Siegel of the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health caught wind of the California research, he took to his blog to announce to the vaping community that the notoriously anti-vaping government agency has just accidentally proven that vaping is in no way associated with popcorn lung. 

“This study, although conducted under very high exposure conditions in a small, non-ventilated vape shop with many employees and customers vaping and clouds of vapor visible, did not document any dangerous levels of exposure to any hazardous chemical. Nicotine exposure was essentially non-existent. Formaldehyde exposure was no different than in many indoor and outdoor environments at baseline. Acetone, acetoin, other aldehydes, toluene, benzene, and xylene were not detected. Chemicals that have been associated with "popcorn lung" were also not detected by the standard method.”

Siegel also takes the opportunity to blast public health officials across the country for banning vaping in public places, since even their own research proves that second-hand vapor is non-toxin and safe for innocent bystanders.  These scientific facts are further supported by additional research out of the Lincoln Memorial University which also shows e-cig vapor contains non-detectable levels of Arsenic, Aluminum, Lead, Zinc, Manganese, Nickel, Iron, Copper, and Cadmium, as well.

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1 comment

  • That’s good to know it dosnt cause pop corn lungs.I hear different from smokers they say you didn’t quit smoking Bryce you just switch seats on the titanic.I feel better vaping then I did smoking cigarettes. ?

    Bryce Raymond

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