Canadian doctors have linked the first case of “popcorn lung” to vaping, a different form of lung damage that has plagued more than 2,000 people in the United States, killing 47, according to a case study recently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Popcorn lung is a chronic lung disease that was first documented in 2000 in microwave popcorn factories workers exposed to the flavoring chemical diacetyl. Diacetyl, also known as 2,3-butanedione, can scar the small bronchioles in the lungs and obstruct airflow. Symptoms include cough, wheezing and worsening shortness of breath.
Health concerns about diacetyl have prompted the European Union to ban the chemical in vaping products sold there. Diacetyl is not banned in e-liquids sold in Canada or the United States.
The 17-year-old male patient had been vaping diacetyl-containing flavored e-liquids for about five months before seeking medical attention for a persistent cough, fever and fatigue. He also reported occasionally adding THC to his e-liquids, taking full inhalations while vaping, and sometimes smoking marijuana with a bong.
The teenager’s condition worsened to the point he was admitted to intensive care and placed on a breathing machine. Had he not recovered with high doses of corticosteroids, doctors would have considered a double lung transplant. The teen was released after 47 days in the hospital, and is expected to experience long-term effects from the illness.
“This case of severe acute bronchiolitis, causing near-fatal…respiratory failure and chronic airflow obstruction in a previously healthy Canadian youth, may represent vaping-associated bronchiolitis obliterans,” the authors concluded in the case report.
Beasley Allen lawyers Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett, together with Mass Torts Section Head Andy Birchfield, are currently representing several individuals who are suing the top U.S. vape maker JUUL for the negative impact its products have had on their lives. On Oct. 7 they also filed lawsuits on behalf of school districts in three states, which seek to protect students and recover resources spent fighting the vaping epidemic.