Juul e-cig flavors create chemical reactions that irritate airways, study finds

Health experts are beginning to learn more about the health effects of vaping

Health experts are still learning about the effects of vaping — long- and short-term — but developing research suggests some of the e-liquids irritate the airways and lungs of users.

Published Tuesday in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, Yale University researchers examined eight Juul e-liquid flavors known to contain a different mixture of ingredients than other e-cigarette brands.

Vapers are consuming more than just the e-liquid ingredients listed on the packaging, researchers warned, including unexpected chemicals from chemical reactions in the flavored liquids that caused the irritation.

Researchers focused on the chemical group called “acetals,” which are used to create flavor in e-cigarette liquid and a number of other food and commercial products, though little is known about the effects of consuming them in vapor form, aside from the newly-discovered irritants.

“People often assume that these e-liquids are a final product once they are mixed,” said lead author Hanno Erythropel. “But the reactions create new molecules in the e-liquids, and it doesn’t just happen in e-liquids from small vape shops, but also in those from the biggest manufacturers in the U.S.”

The researchers note that they didn’t expect to discover so many additional chemicals in the e-liquids, including vanillin, a chemical banned in traditional cigarettes yet allowed in e-cigarettes.

Concerns over the health effects of vaping have been in the news recently. According to a Monday report, eight Wisconsin teenagers were hospitalized with serious lung damage in the month of July from vaping. Live Science reported that leading up to their hospitalization, the teens experienced breath, chest pain, cough and fatigue and some needed breathing assistance once in the hospital.

“It was alarming to have, over a short period of time, eight previously healthy teens come in very sick, unable to breathe, with weight loss, looking as if they had some sort of chronic lung disease when they didn’t,” Dr. Louella Amos, a pediatric pulmonologist at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, explained to a local USA Today affiliate.

Because of these potential dangers associated with vaping, researchers recommend that future regulations factor in the creation of new, potentially toxic compounds and menthol levels, in addition to the health effects of flavorants.

Bailey King/Philly Voice