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Can You Get Popcorn Lung from E-Cigarettes?

Vaping has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with over 25% of high schoolers claiming they’ve used an e-cigarette device in the last month. After a rash of mysterious vaping-related illnesses hit over 1,479 e-cig users from July to October, however, more consumers are becoming concerned about the side effects of using products like Juul, one of the most popular e-cigarettes.

One major side effect of vaping is a lung condition called “popcorn lung” – a popular term for bronchiolitis obliterans. If you’ve been affected by popcorn lung or other respiratory illnesses related to vaping, our attorneys at Martin Jean & Jackson can help you fight back against the e-cigarette companies.

What Causes Popcorn Lung?

Although “popcorn lung” may sound like a descriptive term for damaged lung tissue, the term was derived from microwave popcorn. A chemical called diacetyl was once the main component in butter flavoring for bagged popcorn – but when multiple microwave-popcorn factory workers began presenting with unexplained lung illnesses, disease detectives soon realized that the primary cause was inhaling diacetyl.

When vaporized (as during the microwaving process), diacetyl can cause permanent scarring and damage to the lung sacs or “alveoli.” Because of this, most popcorn manufacturers have stopped using this dangerous substance, even as e-cigarette manufacturers have continued to include this chemical in “vaping pods.” This is because diacetyl is often used to create the fruity flavors in e-cigarettes and other vaping devices, and while Juul Labs does not list diacetyl as one of the ingredients in its Juul pods, other e-cigarette companies have not been as scrupulous.

Here are some of the other common causes of popcorn lung:

  • Acetaldehyde, another e-cigarette component
  • Fumes from metal oxides, particularly in welding fields
  • Sulfur dioxide, a fossil fuel pollutant
  • Formaldehyde, a toxic preservation chemical used in adhesives
  • Mustard gas or “sulfur mustard” exposure

What Are the Symptoms of Popcorn Lung?

Characterized by a dry cough, shortness of breath, and painful inhalation, popcorn lung can be extremely uncomfortable – and in some cases, it may even be life-threatening. It also causes lasting damage and scarring to the lung tissue, which can pave the way for other deadly conditions such as lung disease and lung cancer.

Ultimately, while light symptoms of popcorn lung can fade with time and treatment, heavy exposure to toxic chemicals can still create irreparable damage in the lung sacs. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, this condition is “a serious lung disease that is incurable.”

Seeking Restitution for E-Cigarette Injuries

Have you been seriously injured after using a vaping device or e-cigarette? At Martin Jean & Jackson, our product liability lawyers are on your side. With over 100 years of experience representing consumers in defective product cases, we can help you navigate the process of filing a claim. Defective product claims can be complex, but with the guidance of our skilled attorneys, you may be able to seek compensation for your losses.

Call today for a free consultation on your e-cigarette case.