The Dangers of Diacetyl in E-cigs

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White Cloud continues to lead the global e-cigarette industry in terms of quality and safety by keeping two potentially hazardous chemicals out of our e-liquids: diacetyl and acetyl propionyl. Read on to learn about these compounds and the steps White Cloud has taken to make sure they are never present in any of our products.

DA/AP: What Are They?

The dangers of diacetyl in e-cigarettes

Diacetyl is a chemical naturally found in foods like coffee, honey and some fruits. Commonly used in food production to achieve a buttery or sweet taste, early e-cig companies began using diacetyl to create all kinds of e-liquid flavors such as popcorn and caramel. While it has long been established that diacetyl is completely safe to consume in food and beverages, current evidence suggests that it can be damaging to the lungs when inhaled.

When concerns about diacetyl’s safety emerged a few years ago, some e-liquid producers began substituting acetyl propionyl, another compound of the diketone class. Acetyl propionyl is not subject to the same legal regulations as diacetyl; however, research indicates that the chemicals have a similar safety profile, which is why White Cloud lumps both chemicals together as DA/AP and has decided to keep them out of our e-liquids all together.

Health Problems Associated With Diacetyl

Diacetyl has been linked to a rare but severe lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, which is also known as “popcorn lung” because it once affected popcorn factory workers who were exposed to high levels of vaporized diacetyl. Early signs of the condition include fever, malaise and chronic coughing, and if left untreated, popcorn lung can ultimately cause irreparable damage to the point that patients require a lung transplant.

While it is unclear if diacetyl is the sole culprit, evidence linking diacetyl to popcorn lung was conclusive enough in 2004 for a Missouri jury to award $20 million in personal injury compensation to a former employee of International Flavors and Fragrances, Inc. who suffered from the condition. In response to understandable public concern, regulatory bodies in the U.S. have since established standard safety limits for occupational food flavorings exposure.

Why is DA/AP Still in Some E-liquids?

A few years ago, many major e-cig companies began to acknowledge the potential dangers of DA/AP, so they asked their flavor suppliers to stop using the chemicals. Unfortunately, a 2014 study uncovered that the compounds are still prevalent across the market. The study, led by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos from the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens, tested 159 e-liquid samples from 36 companies in the U.S. and Europe for traces of diacetyl or acetyl propionyl. To his dismay, Farsalinos detected DA/AP in nearly 75 percent of the samples. The majority of liquids contained levels of DA/AP that were below the acceptable limits set by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, but one e-liquid contained 495 times the amount of diacetyl that is considered safe in a work environment!

Dr. Farsalinos did not publicly reveal the names of the brands he analyzed, but he did personally share the results with each company. All of the offending e-liquid sellers claimed ignorance, and some even insisted that their products previously tested negative for the compounds. How could that have happened? Laboratory testing is tricky business, and researchers must know how to properly calibrate “limits of detection” in their equipment. Initial testing likely failed to identify DA/AP because the limit of detection was set too high.

Dr. Farsalinos remains optimistic and claims that his ongoing research “confirms the lower risk potential of e-cigarettes compared to smoking but also identifies an avoidable risk.” He called on industry leaders to “remove this small but unnecessary risk, making the products even safer than they currently are.”

How is the E-cig Industry Responding?

While opponents of e-cigs will likely use these findings to continue their smear campaign against the industry, it should be noted that diacetyl is also commonly found in traditional tobacco cigarettes. Given that tobacco cigarettes also contain hundreds of additional harmful chemicals that are absent from e-liquids, vaping with an e-juice containing DA/AP is still exponentially safer than smoking.

The growing tobacco harm reduction movement holds that although e-cigs may present some hazards, smokers should still be encouraged to switch to vaping because e-cigs can satisfy nicotine cravings with far fewer health risks. Companies out to make a fast buck are content knowing that their products are less dangerous than tobacco, but companies that are serious about staying competitive know they depend on healthy customers and therefore must continually update their formulas to match modern science. No cases of vapers developing popcorn lung have yet to surface, but enough evidence suggests that DA/AP may not be safe for inhalation, which is why White Cloud is leading the charge to get the chemicals out of e-liquids.

The White Cloud Difference

Since our founding, White Cloud has looked at every new scientific development in the field of e-cigs as an opportunity to innovate. Our commitment to keeping our customers both safe and satisfied led to the creation of products like Copper Kettle, one of the few caramel flavored e-liquids on the market made without DA/AP. Developing new flavors is difficult and takes a lot of time and financial resources, which is why a lot of brands will buy liquid from wherever they can get it for the cheapest.

Because White Cloud aspires to set the bar for e-cig safety even higher, we source all of our e-liquids from the U.S., where e-liquids are held to the strictest standards in the world. Our e-liquids specifically exclude chemicals that have been identified as harmful such as DA/AP, 3-acetyl-2, 5-dimethylthiophene and ethylene oxide, and all of our e-liquids carry a “BPA & DAPOR Free” label as well. Our dedication to safety allows us to sell our products in markets as diverse as Australia, India, Italy, South Korea, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The laws and scientific literature surrounding e-cig safety are constantly evolving. While our competitors are waiting for governmental agencies to tell them what they can and can’t put in their products, White Cloud is staying on top of the current science to become a safety trendsetter, which is why you will never find diacetyl or acetyl propionyl in our e-liquids.