Popcorn lung is a serious medical condition that causes the narrowing of airways. To explain, bronchiolitis obliterans takes its familiar name from its popularity as a flavor additive. A chemical called diacetyl gave certain foods such as popcorn a richer and more ‘buttery’ taste.
Symptoms of popcorn lung include shortness of breath, wheezing unrelated to other conditions, dry cough and exhaustion. At the height of the panic, popcorn lung cases spiked, due to high amounts of diacetyl added to vape juices. As a result, many e-juice makers stopped producing flavors with heavy doses of the chemical or stopped using it altogether.
Diacetyl was a primary ingredient in butter-flavored popcorn. In fact, factory workers who packaged microwave popcorn were discovered with a higher occurrence of popcorn lung. In response, some manufacturers stopped using the chemical in popcorn production as well. However, there is a massive difference between vaping trace amounts of a chemical and working in a closed factory where you’re exposed to it daily for hours on end.
Does Vaping Cause Popcorn Lung?
The association of bronchiolitis obliterans with vaping stems from two particular studies. Bear in mind, vaping at power levels beyond normal voltage was discovered to have skewed at least one of them. According to myth checker Snopes.com, a Harvard study concluded that low dosages of diacetyl in e-juice were not likely a risk factor in contracting the condition, dispelling the evidence produced which was funneling facts to the media.
In fact, another study concluded that tobacco cigarettes contained a higher dosage of diacetyl, creating a higher risk of smokers contracting popcorn lung than vapers. Users of vape juice with minuscule amounts of diacetyl were no more at risk of contracting popcorn lung than non-smokers.
Popcorn lung is a legitimate concern for consumers. However, vapers are no more at risk of falling victim to bronchiolitis obliterans than certain industrial workers or tobacco smokers. Any chemical damage may contribute to getting popcorn lung. However, there is no direct evidence to suggest that vaping puts users at any additional risk.