Electronic cigarettes may be growing in popularity but the jury is still out on the long term effects of these devices. For example, a new study has only now revealed that e-cigarettes flavoring compounds can contain dangerous ingredients that might have been known to cause, for example, respiratory problems.

Scientists at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that 90 percent of 51 flavored e-cigarette brands contain at least one of three toxic chemicals. These are diacetyl, acetoin, and 2,3-pentanedione. These chemicals are commonly known to enhance the flavor profile of many processed foods intended to taste “buttery,” like microwave popcorn.

Of course, it has been thought that these chemicals are safe but more and more evidence continues to suggest that diacetyl, at least, can trigger an incurable and quite progressive respiratory disease called obliterative bronchiolitis.
It is also known as “Popcorn Lung.”

“Recognition of the hazards associated with inhaling flavoring chemicals started with ‘popcorn lung’ over a decade ago. However, diacetyl and other related flavoring chemicals are used in many other flavors beyond butter-flavored popcorn, including fruit flavors, alcohol flavors, and, we learned in our study, candy-flavored e-cigarettes,” comments lead study author Joseph Allen.

The assistant professor of exposure assessment sciences goes on to say, “They are not vetted for safety for inhalation. We don’t have safe limits for the general public for inhaling these compounds. There have been limits published for workers in terms of acceptable exposure limits, but these limits don’t apply to members of the public.”

Finally, study co-author and Elkan Blout Professor of Environmental Sciences, David Christiana, adds, “Since most of the health concerns about e-cigarettes have focused on nicotine, there is still much we do not know about e-cigarettes. In addition to containing varying levels of the addictive substance nicotine, they also contain other cancer-causing chemicals, such as formaldehyde, and as our study shows, flavoring chemicals that can cause lung damage.”

Get Analysts' Upgrades and Downgrades Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of analysts' upgrades, downgrades and new coverage with MarketBeat.com's FREE daily email newsletter.