What the hell is Diacetyl?
Lately, the use butter flavoring containing diacetyl has come widely under scrutiny. This may sound like bad news for vapers who love the oh-so-delicious buttery style e-liquid.
According to the CDC:
Diacetyl is a chemical that was found to be a prominent volatile constituent in butter flavoring and air at the microwave popcorn plant initially investigated by NIOSH. Diacetyl is also known as the alpha-diketone, 2,3-butanedione, or by its Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number, 431-03-08.
Now for those of us that aren’t fluent in science talk, what they are saying is that diacetyl is a chemical in butter flavoring. It was only suspected of being harmful after several employees at a popcorn factory inhaled large amounts of the chemical and developed bronchiolitis obliterans, what has become commonly known as “popcorn lung”. The CDC has not yet found a direct link between diacetyl and lung disease.
So what’s the worst case scenario?
An epidemic of pulmonary disease was discovered among workers in a popcorn factory in Jasper, Missouri in 2001. Workers were suffering from Bronchiolitis Obliterans Syndrome, a disease of the lung that m
akes it difficult to breathe. This quickly became known as “popcorn lung”. After one year, 25 out of 117 workers studied working in the packaging or mixing rooms had experienced a decrease in lung function seven times that of a healthy adult at the same age. The CDC then began testing on rats, exposing each to 6 hours of heavily concentrated vapor created by heating the artificial butter and salt flavoring used in the popcorn plant. The rats quickly developed decreased lung function, however it is still debated within the CDC whether diacetyl was a direct cause of the effects. Overall, evidence shows that diacetyl may cause flavoring-related lung disorders.
Well what’s the good news?
Diacetyl is a naturally occurring chemical substance. It is found in low concentrations in apples, artichokes, beans, butter, coffee, dairy, fruits, honey, tobacco and vinegar. It is also a natural byproduct of the yeast formation while brewing beer. Companies will often use diacetyl to give products like margarine, non-stick sprays and baked goods a buttery taste. So basically what I’m saying here is, you’ve been inhaling it pretty much your entire life. A wiff of hot popcorn straight out of the microwave or a blast of cooking spray in a hot pan can deliver a blast of the dreaded chemical to your precious lungs. Even worse than that, just ONE cigarette contains 100x the amount of diacetyl found in the average bottle of e-liquid. So if you switched from smoking to vaping, don’t panic, you really did make the right decision.
What do we do now?
Although the effects of diacetyl are still up for debate, I’m sure most people would prefer to be safe rather than sorry. The vaping industry is still basically in its infancy, and it often feels like we are just figuring it all out together. People are concerned about what they’re putting into their bodies and we have heard your concerns. Although the negative effects are limited, e-juice manufacturers are working to create liquids with great taste that are diacetyl-free. As of January 2016, Austin Vape and Smoke and it’s distributors are working to eliminate all e-liquids with added diacetyl.