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POPCORN LUNG: Reflect on implications of vaping

THE prevalence of vaping among teenagers in Malaysia rose from 9.8 per cent in 2017 to 14.9 per cent in 2022.

So it’s crucial to address the safety of vape products.

Often misled by the fruity flavours promoted by vape products, many are unaware that these liquids commonly contain chemicals such as nicotine, propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerine (VG), flavourings, dyes, cooling agents and other undisclosed ingredients.

It’s vital for users to recognise how these components can adversely affect the lungs and the breathing system.

For instance, the ratio of PG to VG can alter the feel of vaping.

PG, with its thinner consistency, provides a distinct “throat hit”.

When these compounds are heated, they may produce toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds.

Prolonged exposure to harmful volatile compounds can damage the lungs, potentially leading to conditions like E-cigarette or Vaping Use-Associated Lung Injury (Evali) and popcorn lung (bronchiolitis obliterans).

Findings from a study by our research team at Sunway University’s School of Medical and Life Sciences further highlight safety concerns.

After analysing 10 vape liquid brands, we found that 70 per cent contained higher PG levels than what their labels stated.

More alarmingly, 80 per cent of tested vape liquid samples contained traces of ammonia, a chemical present in diverse products like fertilisers, hair dyes, and plastics.

It’s worth noting that the absorption rate of nicotine in the lungs can vary depending on the chemicals added to vape liquids.

Agents such as formaldehyde, alcohol, ammonia, and acids might alter how nicotine interacts with our body system, potentially heightening addiction risks.

Vape users should be vigilant about what they are inhaling.

It’s vital for the public to recognise that unlike the digestive system, which can purge harmful substances through mechanisms like vomiting or diarrhoea in cases of food poisoning, our lungs lack such excretion capabilities.

As a result, chemicals from vaping can accumulate in the lungs, leading to Evali and popcorn lung.

People, particularly the younger generation, should reflect on the implications of vaping, considering the harmful chemicals inhaled.

Also, the presence of undisclosed chemicals and inconsistent ingredient lists highlight the need for rigorous product registration and post-marketing surveillance by the health authorities.

Source: New Straits Times

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