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Electronic cigarettes could cause popcorn lung

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Some of our readers may have heard the term “popcorn lung.” It’s actual name is a far more daunting one — bronchiolitis obliterans. It became known as popcorn lung because it’s a condition sometimes acquired by workers in plants that make microwave popcorn and other foods that use various types of flavoring. Now a study from the Harvard School of Public Health has found that the flavorings used in electronic cigarettes can also cause popcorn lung.

Many people have taken up “vaping” e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. However, vaping is not without its hazards. The Harvard study found that most brands of e-cigarettes contain toxic chemicals. One of these chemicals, diacetyl, is found in the popcorn and fruit flavorings that can cause popcorn lung in workers regularly exposed to large amounts of it. The amount of diacetyl used in the flavorings in 39 of the brands of e-cigarettes studied was so high that it exceeded the level that the lab could measure.

Popcorn lung is considered a severe form of bronchitis. Unlike regular bronchitis, however, it is irreversible. Severe cases can even be fatal. Too often it goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed at first because the symptoms initially resemble those of many other respiratory conditions. These include:

— Shortness of breath

— Dry cough

— Wheezing

— Fatigue

— Fever

It’s not known whether e-cigarettes have yet been linked to any cases of popcorn lung and, if so, whether any legal action has been taken. Vaping is still a fairly recent phenomenon. However, if you or a loved one contract popcorn lung and you believe that e-cigarettes may have been the cause, it would be worthwhile to determine what your legal options are for seeking compensation to cover your medical care and other damages.

Source: Remedy Daily, “Understanding bronchiolitis obliterans, aka ‘popcorn lung,’ and its link to vaping,” Cate Misczuk, accessed Aug. 24, 2016

Jason Fuiman

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Co-Managing Partner and Chair of O'Dwyer & Bernstien's Labor & Employee Benefits practice, Jason has over twenty years of experience in the New York legal industry.