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Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1510185

Flavoring Chemicals in E-Cigarettes: Diacetyl, 2,3-Pentanedione, and Acetoin in a Sample of 51 Products, Including Fruit-, Candy-, and Cocktail-Flavored E-Cigarettes

Joseph G. Allen, Skye S. Flanigan, Mallory LeBlanc, Jose Vallarino, Piers MacNaughton, James H. Stewart, and David C. Christiani
Author Affiliations open
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

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  • Background: There are over 7,000 e-cigarette flavors currently marketed. Flavoring chemicals gained notoriety in the early 2000’s when inhalation exposure of the flavoring chemical diacetyl was found to be associated with a disease that became known as “Popcorn Lung.” There has been limited research on flavoring chemicals in e-cigarettes.

    Objective: To determine if the flavoring chemical diacetyl, and two other high-priority flavoring chemicals 2,3-pentanedione, and acetoin, are present in a convenience sample of flavored e-cigarettes.

    Methods: We selected 51 types of flavored e-cigarettes sold by leading e-cigarette brands and flavors we deemed were appealing to youth. E-cigarette contents were fully discharged and the air stream was captured and analyzed for total mass of diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione, and acetoin, according to OSHA Method 1012.

    Results: At least one flavoring chemical was detected in 47 of 51 unique flavors tested. Diacetyl was detected above the laboratory limit of detection 39 of the 51 flavors tested, ranging from < limit of qualification (LOQ) to 239 μg/e-cigarette. 2,3-pentanedione and acetoin were detected in 23 and 46 of the 51 flavors tested at concentrations up to 64 and 529 μg/e-cigarette, respectively.

    Conclusion: Due to the associations between diacetyl, bronchiolitis obliterans and other severe respiratory diseases observed in workers, urgent action is recommended to further evaluate this potentially widespread exposure via flavored e-cigarettes.

  • This EHP Advance Publication article has been peer-reviewed, revised, and accepted for publication. EHP Advance Publication articles are completely citable using the DOI number assigned to the article. This document will be replaced with the copyedited and formatted version as soon as it is available. Through the DOI number used in the citation, you will be able to access this document at each stage of the publication process.

    Citation: Allen JG, Flanigan SS, LeBlanc M, Vallarino J, MacNaughton P, Stewart JH, Christiani DC. Flavoring Chemicals in E-Cigarettes: Diacetyl, 2,3-Pentanedione, and Acetoin in a Sample of 51 Products, Including Fruit-, Candy-, and Cocktail-Flavored E-Cigarettes. Environ Health Perspect; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1510185

    Received: 7 May 2015
    Accepted: 9 November 2015
    Advance Publication: 8 December 2015

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