What You Need to Know About Popcorn Lung from E-Cigarettes
E-cigarettes have made a big splash on the market in recent years. Many people are turning to this product in lieu of using traditional cigarettes but it is important to understand that there are significant risks associated with electronic cigarettes. One of these issues is known as popcorn lung. If you or someone you know is using e-cigarettes on a regular basis, you should be aware of the challenges presented by popcorn lung and what you can do to prevent it as well as what to do if you’ve already been hurt by it.
Diacetyl’s Troubling History
Ten years ago, individuals working in a microwave popcorn factory came down with an unexpected illness as a result of breathing in Diacetyl. This is a chemical flavored like butter that is frequently found in dairy, popcorn and kernel products.
Although this flavoring is crucial to the end taste in a product, it can also lead to a lot of serious issues with an irreversible lung disease known as bronchiolitis obliterans. Due to these challenges that affected workers over a decade ago, popcorn manufacturers made every effort to remove diacetyl from their products.
People today may not even realize that this dangerous product is still found inside e-cigarette vapor. When inhaled by a user, diacetyl can lead to this significant lung problem also referred to as popcorn lung. Some of the challenges associated with such a diagnosis are that it can lead to scars inside the tiny air sacs found in the lungs. This can also narrow or thicken the airways.
The colloquial term popcorn lung may not sound dangerous, however, it is a significant and problematic lung disease associated with shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing.
Many of the symptoms may mirror COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Even though there is a clear link between diacetyl and popcorn lung, this chemical is still found in numerous different flavors promoted for e-cigarettes. It is typically added by some e-cigarette companies for flavors associated with coconut, vanilla or maple. It will be added to the e-juice liquid by the e-cigarette manufacturer, although the end user may never even realize that this compromising product is found directly inside something they are using on a regular basis.
Is Diacetyl Found in E-Cigarette Vapor?
A recent analysis conducted by Harvard identified 39 out of 51 popular e-cigarette brands contained elements of Diacetyl. Other harmful chemicals such as Acetoin and Pentanedione were present in up to half of the 51 flavors that were tested. 1 of 3 of the above-mentioned chemicals was found in 92% of e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes have been promoted as a healthier and more socially acceptable way to enjoy the habit of smoking. However, many people do not even realize some of the side effects that these carry as well. Many people who are taking up e-cigarettes do not understand all of the materials that are used to make the e-cigarette vapor.
As a result, most Americans are unaware that inhaling such chemicals could lead to significant and life lasting respiratory harm. In recent years the FDA had no oversight over electronic cigarettes. However, in 2016 the Food and Drug Administration identified that they would be expanding their oversight authority to include other tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, enforcing key provisions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. This is a critical public health issue, particularly as e-cigarettes have picked up a lot of traction among younger individuals. If you or someone you know has begun to experience serious side effects in their respiratory system after using e-cigarettes, you may want to investigate whether or not Diacetyl was included in the vapors you were using.
How Diacetyl Has Been Viewed in the Past
In the past, this flavoring chemical was largely viewed as harmless. However, while it might still be considered safe in a general manner to consume over extended periods of time, individuals who have continuous contact with Diacetyl can have significant respiratory issues. For this reason, many experts say it is not safe to inhale Diacetyl. Diacetyl has been found in numerous different e-cigarette liquids.
Popcorn lung is an irreversible condition and although the electronic cigarette industry is largely aware of this challenge, it cannot be verified whether or not every different manufacturer of e-cigarette liquid has taken the appropriate precautions to remove it from their products. Therefore, an individual who is purchasing e-cigarette liquid from someone may not even realize the dangers they are exposing themselves to.
A recent case in Colorado settled for more than $7 million associated with someone who came down with a diagnosis of popcorn lung after eating two bags of microwave popcorn each day for over the course of 10 years. The outcome of this case means that it is important for any individual who may come into contact with Diacetyl on a regular basis to be aware of the risks.
Symptoms of Popcorn Lung
The major symptoms associated with popcorn lung are shortness of breath and a cough. It is important to realize, however, as is mentioned in the case above with the multi-million-dollar settlement, that these symptoms may evolve over time after continuous exposure to Diacetyl. These symptoms can be subtle and slow to develop, making it nearly disabling after many years of continuous exposure. Some of the most common issues associated with popcorn lung include:
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
Inflammation of the skin may also be present for those individuals who have continuous exposure to Diacetyl.
Diagnosing Popcorn Lung
Since popcorn lung has symptoms that appear in other respiratory conditions like asthma, pneumonia, emphysema, and bronchitis, many doctors will not realize that a patient actually has popcorn lung. Although the condition has received more awareness in recent years, these more-common conditions are most likely to be associated with a patient who comes in with respiratory issues. This means that a patient could be suffering from popcorn lung and continuous exposure to diacetyl could exacerbate their existing symptoms. Treatments for other respiratory conditions will not get to the root cause of the problem for a patient suffering from popcorn lung.
Since many patients and therefore doctors are not yet aware of the risks of popcorn lung associated with the continuous and long-term use of e-cigarettes, it’s possible that a patient could be misdiagnosed. Even though this condition is irreversible, getting an accurate diagnosis and taking steps to minimize the side effects is a goal for all patients.
How a Medical Professional Can Help You if You Think You Have Popcorn Lung
A thorough history is needed by any medical professional who ultimately decides that someone is suffering from popcorn lung. CT Scans, chest x-rays, and lung function testing are all important components of determining whether or not an individual has been affected. The primary way to remove any popcorn lung problems is to stop any exposure to the Diacetyl agent. This frequently means that workers exposed to Diacetyl need to use facial coverings and a respirator mask.
In other situations, workers may need to be removed from the work environment entirely. For consumers, however, it is strongly recommended that they avoid any and all exposure with Diacetyl. Those individuals who are using e-cigarettes that have Diacetyl in the vaping agent can be exposed to catastrophic injuries and popcorn lung. This can be a lifelong and irreversible condition that causes them numerous respiratory issues and impact their quality of life. Consulting with an attorney is strongly recommended for any individual who has been impacted by this situation. Popcorn lung is a serious issue despite its innocent-sounding name.
Although the FDA is increasing its regulation of e-cigarettes, it is still not broadly known whether or not manufacturers will be responsible for naming whether or not they are using Diacetyl in their products. Severe exposure for those individuals who have been affected by Diacetyl could lead to complicated medical conditions and numerous expenses.
Research is still evolving about the connection between Diacetyl and respiratory issues, as well as the amount of Diacetyl included in electronic cigarettes. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as the flavoring industry, have already made statements about the problems with Diacetyl as a result of the high risk of popcorn lung. More than 7,000 varieties of electronic flavored e-cigarettes are currently on the market.
Although the popularity of these e-cigarettes continues to increase, there is not enough research or data completed about their possible health effects. E-cigarettes are not presently regulated although there is a rule on the books to include e-cigarettes under the authority for the Food and Drug Administration as it relates to their general oversight on nicotine-containing products like tobacco.
The E-Cig / Vaping Industry Responds
The vaping industry has experienced tremendous growth in the past several years, as indicated by the number of product manufacturers and online and brick and mortar stores selling these products. With the surge of interest in vaping, the industry has been responding to allegations about popcorn lung in e-cigarettes by arguing that the outcomes of these studies have been widely overstated. As with all new studies, it’s important to do your research and to be fully aware of all the risks involved when using a product.
Many people who are using electronic cigarettes are pulling back on their usage until it’s clear that the product they are using is safe. Make sure you always identify whether or not the product you’re using has diacetyl in it, recognizing that not all manufacturers may make you aware of its presence or the dangers linked to it.
Do I Have a Legal Claim?
Learning that the symptoms you have been suffering with may be tied to popcorn lung can be a devastating discovery. No consumer expects that a product they have been using regularly could make them seriously ill, but unfortunately, this has become more of a reality for those individuals who have developed this diagnosis after using certain e-cigarettes for a long time.
The consumer product industry in the United States has come under fire in recent years as a result of allegations that manufacturers are not doing the proper testing or research, or know about the risks of certain products and fail to warn consumers about them until it’s too late. Due to this, more people are coming forward with legal claims after being hurt or developing medical conditions. As a patient learning to cope with the irreversible issues with popcorn long, you no doubt have questions.
There are attorneys who begin investigations into cases like this after learning how it has impacted a patient’s life. In fact, lawsuits may be one of the first ways in which agencies like the Consumer Product Safety Commission become aware of the dangers with a product. If you believe that your recent diagnosis of popcorn lung is tied to your use of e-cigarettes, you may need to consult with a lawyer who has extensive experience in this field. You and other consumers who have suffered may have grounds for a legal claim. As these issues begin to unfold, consider whether or not your diagnosis is tied to electronic cigarettes.
In the interim, you may choose to stop using these products in order to evaluate more fully whether or not they could be causing you injury. No consumer should ever have to wonder whether a product they use daily is seriously dangerous, but make sure you investigate this situation to discover whether or not you can move forward with a legal claim. Choosing the right law firm such as ours who have handled complex product liability cases in the past, can make a big difference in your claim, allowing you to focus on treating your symptoms rather than putting together the material needed for a legal claim.
If you have already been impacted by the continuous use of or exposure to Diacetyl, please contact us today at 1-888-480-1123.