- Diacetyl discovered inside a VIP butterscotch flavour liquid refill bottle
- Bought at Metrocentre in Gateshead and has since been withdrawn
- Chemical behind ‘popcorn worker’s lung’ safe to eat, but not to inhale
Withdrawn: Diacetyl was discovered inside a VIP butterscotch flavour liquid refill bottle (file picture)
A potentially harmful chemical linked to lung disease has been found in an e-cigarette sold in Britain, it was claimed today.
Diacetyl – a chemical safe to eat, but not to inhale – was discovered inside a VIP butterscotch flavour liquid refill bottle purchased at the Metrocentre in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.
Laboratory tests were carried out on four types of liquid, with the other three safe – but the butterscotch product has since been withdrawn.
Lynne White – head of retail distribution at VIP, one of Britain’s biggest e-cigarette firms – said the company had already detected the chemical through its testing, and the product should have been withdrawn a week before it was purchased.
She told BBC One investigative show Inside Out: ‘Because of the small amount the vaper would actually consume it was deemed in the short term there would be no health concerns.
‘Long term, yes there could well be – however, we decided it was a withdrawal rather than a recall of the product and that was based on Ecita (Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association) guidelines. This is our first issue in five years.
‘We sell millions of bottles a year. We are very sorry it has happened, we are investigating how it has happened’.
Investigators spoke to Dr Graham Burns, a consultant physician in respiratory and general medicine.
Dr Burns, who works for Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘Diacetyl – is associated with an unusual but well-established lung condition called “popcorn worker’s lung”.
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Response: VIP said it sells ‘millions of bottles a year’ and this was its ‘first issue in five years’ (file picture from Ecigclick.co.uk)
‘It has been inhaled in significant quantities in people who worked in popcorn manufacturing factories. In those individuals it has caused a very serious lung condition.’
He added: ‘E-cigarettes are as yet
entirely unregulated so at the moment if you go out on to the streets,
buy an e-cigarette you have no idea and I have no idea what you are
putting into your lungs.’
ECIGARETTES: BY NUMBERS
- £1.8billion – the value of the e-cigarette market globally
- £91 million – the value of e-cigarette market in UK
- 29million people now using e-cigarettes in Europe
- 700,000 Britons used e cigarettes in 2012
- 2.1million Britons use e cigarettes today
- 13 per cent of doctors polled in UK want e-cigarettes available only on prescription
- 1,000 times less – the toxicity of vapour in e-cigarettes compared with cigarette smoke
- 2003 – the year when e-cigarettes were invented in China
comes after the World Health Organisation insisted last week that
electronic cigarettes should be banned from indoors and face a raft of
new curbs over safety fears.
organisation, which is the public health arm of the UN,
claimed they pose a risk to bystanders of ‘toxicant’ emissions and
warned there was limited evidence they help smokers quit.
A report said legal steps need to be taken to end the use of e-cigarettes in public indoor spaces and workplaces – and to ban sales to children.
Around 2.1million Britons use battery-powered e-cigarettes, which allow users to inhale nicotine but avoid the harm caused by tobacco smoke.
The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency decided they must be regulated as medicines to make them ‘safer and more effective’, but this is not due until 2016.
But a major scientific review last month, which looked at 81 studies of e-cigarettes, found they caused less harm than smoking.
POPCORN WORKER’S LUNG: THE DANGERS OF BRONCHIOLITIS OBLITERANS
Bronchiolitis obliterans is an inflammatory obstruction of the bronchioles, which are the lung’s smallest airways.
The condition restricts the flow of air out of the lungs, causing a dry cough and wheezing. One cause of the condition is thought to be the inhalation of diacetyl.
The chemical is used to make butter-like flavouring in microwaveable popcorn.
The condition first came to public attention when eight former employees of the Gilster-Mary Lee popcorn plant in Missouri developed it in the late 1990s.
And two years ago a court in Colorado awarded £4million in damages to a man who developed the condition after eating a few packs of popcorn every day for ten years.
- Inside Out North East and Cumbria will be broadcast at 7.30pm tomorrow (September 1). It will be on BBC One North East and Cumbria, and will then be available on iPlayer for seven days