Another DAAP Study comes out of Harvard, Does it Hold Water?

Well, here we go again. About 3 to 4 years ago there was a strong resistance to DAAP, otherwise known as Diacetyl or Acetylpropionyl. This stemmed from a probing of ClickBang Podcast host Russ Baker, which ended up causing a worldwide urgency in the vaping industry. What was uncovered was that e-liquids were being found with high levels of DAAP, through third party testing done by Enthalpy labs, in which Russ sent in himself. Most of this was based around the known science that DAAP was damaging to the lungs. The infamous “popcorn lung” discussion originated here, but many scientists and doctors, including top vape advocate himself, Dr. Farsalinos, backed up the data. This led to an overall persuasion of the industry to remove all DAAP traces from their e-liquids. And many, many companies did, despite the loss of “rich” “buttery” flavor, and monetary cost. Unfortunately, removing DAAP meant certain flavors and profiles could not be created. But much of the vaping community did not care too much about this data, and thus, sought after e-liquids that still contained the compounds. Whether it was finding the companies who didn’t abide by standard testing, or creating the e-liquids themselves, DAAP lived on. And over time more and more companies decided it wasn’t worth the money or effort to test for DAAP, or leave it out of their products, and DAAP is now a regular compound in e-liquid on the shelves.

Unfortunately, I think this will change quite soon. A new study out of Harvard shows even more data proving damage done by DAAP. You can check out the entire study here . So to put it simply, Diacetyl and Acetylpropionyl, when present in the lungs, react adversely to the cilia which lies in the epithelium. At the levels tested, the cilia (used to keep the epithelium in the lungs clear of dirt, mucous, and foreign substances) showed damage and the number of cells decreased. Scary right?

Is it still much safer to vape e-liquid that contains 150ppm of DAAP, compared to a cigarette which has up to 361ppm in a single cigarette?

But there’s a bit more to the study that isn’t being discussed. In fact, it’s the same concerns vapers and advocates had when the initial wave of science came out around this topic. And that is, how much damage is exactly being done with the levels inhaled through e-liquid, and what are the comparable levels to cigarettes. This is unknown in the current study, so the questions still remain. Instead of measuring damage due to inhalation of DAAP through a dilution in e-liquid, the study was done by exposing cells directly to the compound which was meant to mimic in vivo testing. Not only this, but the concentrations tested were chosen based upon known damaging levels. Instead of finding an average of DAAP found in commercial e-liquids and using that concentration, it chose levels known to affect cells in the original 2008 study. This level was 25ppm of Diacetyl and 100pm of AP, and was exposed directly to the lungs for 24 hours. While some flavorings contain much more than 25ppm of DAAP in their solutions, many do not. Most contain non-detectable levels, and many contain levels less than 25ppm, at a 100% solution! For instance, FLV Tricks Cereal contains 7.8ppm of Diacetyl, at a 100% solution. This is a flavoring that we’d use no more than 3% of, further diluting the overall DAAP, which would then be vaped over a course of days, even weeks for some.

So what does this mean? Well, I personally believe DAAP is a compound that should be worked around. If you can reach the optimal levels of satisfaction, with 0ppm of DAAP included, then that’s a win and should be the standard to strive for. This is because there is 100% definitive proof it does damage. Unfortunately, we still don’t know how much damage it’s actually doing, at the levels we’re vaping at. This is the biggest frustration of it all. We can’t compare and contrast our safety with cigarettes effectively when the data just isn’t there. Meaning, we know cigarettes contain very high levels of DAAP. But since we don’t know the exact levels of perceptible harm in a diluted vapor, we can’t compare the two against each other effectively. Is it still much safer to vape e-liquid that contains 150ppm of DAAP, compared to a cigarette which has up to 361ppm in a single cigarette? It’s looking that way. Unfortunately, we just don’t have a definitive answer.

Nonetheless, do not be too scared of this study. It even seems a bit “untrustworthy”, since the scientists state “The most common flavoring compound added to e-cig is diacetyl…” which just isn’t true at all. But you should be worried about the ingredients in your e-liquids. And the entire industry and community should always be striving for more. For better. Knowing what compounds may cause harm, will only equip us with more tools to stay healthier. I’ll always do my best to craft the best tasting e-liquids I can in the safest way possible. Just as I would with cooking.  And I think you should too. Just think, you don’t eat bacon all day everyday, even though you could. You should have the same outlook on DAAP. At least until more science comes out. 


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