Diacetyl is a naturally occurring chemical found in low-concentration in apples, artichokes, beans, butter, coffee, dairy, fruits, honey, tobacco and vinegar. Diacetyl is also a natural byproduct from the conversion of glucose to ethanol by yeast during the fermentation process when crafting beer. Diacetyl is used by chemical manufacturers to give butter, margarine, shortening, oil sprays, flavorings and other food products a buttery taste. Diacetyl has been used in microwavable popcorn, snack foods, baked goods and, more recently, flavorings found in e-liquids for use in electronic cigarettes and vaping devices.
Diacetyl has been found to be dangerous for workers in manufacturing facilities that use diacetyl, especially when heating and boiling is involved. High exposure to diacetyl in production settings has been linked to rare respiratory illnesses such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. In some very rare cases, diacetyl has been linked to the closure of airways, asthma and, in extreme cases, lung disease, for some popcorn and chemical manufacturing workers.
Since e-liquids primarily get their taste from food flavorings, many e-liquid flavors are at risk of containing diacetyl. Although the risks are much lower for vapers inhaling diacetyl-containing e-liquids than for workers in manufacturing settings handling diacetyl, it is important to understand the potential consequences of extended diacetyl inhalation. Inhaling anything is a personal decision and should be thoroughly considered before introducing chemicals into one’s throat and breathing passageways. The latest study of e-liquids found that those containing diacetyl may cause harm to the respiratory system over time. It is important to note that of the e-liquids tested, the average carries around 100 times less diacetyl than the traditional tobacco cigarette. The scientific community considers vaping an avoidable risk and seeks to arm users with the knowledge to determine the best course of action for one’s self.