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E-cigs linked to permanent lung disease

Many manufactures of the popular e-cigarettes tout them as an effective way for smokers to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke or to kick the habit entirely. However, some recent reports indicate that these smoking alternatives can bring their own share of dangers.

Harvard University scientists released results from research they conducted that revealed a link between e-cigs and the lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans. Commonly referred to as "popcorn lung," it was first diagnosed in a group of Missouri factory workers in 2000.

The irreversible respiratory condition causes permanent scarring of the alveoli in the lungs. Symptoms include:

-- Wheezing

-- Shortness of breath

-- Coughing

The factory workers routinely inhaled the buttery flavoring in microwave popcorn as they performed their job duties. However, there was a harmful chemical in the butter flavoring called diacetyl.

The Harvard researchers tested 51 different kinds of liquids and flavored e-cigs. They put each one in a sealed chamber that was attached to a device drawing air for eight seconds through the e-cig. After half-minute intervals between draws, they analyzed the air streams. Of the 51 flavors that were tested, 47 were found to contain at least one potentially harmful chemical, including diacetyl and two additional hazardous compounds.

Researchers specifically targeted flavors that were likely to appeal to minors, like "cotton candy, Fruit Squirts and cupcake." These sweet flavors can be an effective marketing tool to induce minors into "vaping" in the states that permit sales of e-cigs to minors.

As the e-cigarette industry is still a fledgling venture, these findings may be only the tip of the iceberg of hazards to consumers. Manufacturers of the products could face negligence allegations for selling them without consumer warnings on the packaging.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "E-cigarette chemical linked to 'popcorn lung'," Katie Link, Dec. 08, 201

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