Malaysiakini
LETTER

Did study conclude e-cigarette flavours lead to lung disease?

cks

Published
Modified 14 Dec 2015, 1:06 am

Your Dec 9 report titled ‘E-cigarette flavours lead to lung disease, Harvard study finds’ is biased and smacks of an effort to paint a bad picture of e-cigarettes by drawing a non-existent conclusion as titled. The Harvard study merely concluded ‘The presence of diacetyl and other high priority flavouring chemicals in flavoured e-cigarette’, precisely the objective it was set up for.

Diacetyl is not used in the manufacture of e-cigarette liquids, as suggested in your report. It is used in the manufacture of some flavours used in e-cigarette liquids, in particular those of sweetened, caramel and buttery flavors. Therefore, not all e-cigarette liquids produce diacetyl when heated up; flavours that do not contain diacetyl in their manufacture will not produce diacetyl when heated up.

The inhalation of diacetyl-containing e-cigarette vapor does not necessary lead to lung diseases, Bronchiolitis obliterans included. Dose-response study of diacetyl exposure in e-cigarette has not been carried out, any linkage between the two at the moment is entirely speculative.

An avid vaper who has 500 inhalations of 5 seconds each has a cumulative daily exposure of 2,500 seconds or 42 minutes; most vapers however, may only have a daily exposure of 12 minutes from 100 inhalations. How is this compared to the exposure encountered by the eight workers inflicted with ‘popcorn lung’ whose daily exposure is 8 hours?

Irrespective of the issue at-hand, your readers deserve an unbiased and balanced information. We must not assume the investigators of the Harvard study team are unbiased. In their report, diacetyl was above the level of detection in 39 out of 51 samples tested ranging from >LOQ to 239 ug/e-cigarette (cartridge).

In fact, only ONE sample recorded 239 ug; 38 samples recorded less than 40 ug, 27 samples less than 10 ug, 18 samples less than 5 ug and seven samples less than 1 ug; the norm is 5 ug/cartridge. Would that change the picture drastically? Why was the 239 ug in one sample highlighted?

At 5 ug/cartridge, and with each cartridge providing say 1000 inhalations, the exposure rate is 0.005 ug. It is not suggested that this low exposure rate will not cause any lung diseases; we simply do not know at this time. It is more to illustrate that the title of your report has no basis.

In this context, your readers should rightly be informed that diacetyl found in cigarette smoke is like 100 times more than what is found in e-cigarette vapor.

To be truly independent news provider, Malaysiakini must not be too eager to jump on the anti-vaping bashing bandwagon. To be balanced in reporting, critical review of published reports, rather than a ‘cut-and-paste’ exercise, is definitely needed at all times.