There is nothing I hate more than the use of science for fear mongering & tabloid sales. Perfect example of this is the current ecig (which is a misnomer anyway) 'controversy'.
Lets look at the actual evidence: The Harvard Study that everyone is so keen to point out and which is available for free here tested 51 flavours for diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione and acetoin, all nasty chemicals that are bad for your lungs. They found these compounds in some of the flavourings, the chemical of most concern is apparently the diacetyl which also takes the blame the for handy tabloid friendly disease 'popcorn lung'
The largest mass of this compound found in the Harvard sample was 238.9ppm in the peach schnapps juice. The next closest was 38.4ppm so as a scientist I would want to treat the schnapps flavour as an outlier and exclude it from the data analysis (guess what none of the media reports did this) so after doing that lets see what the average µg is for an e cig based on that data: Well it turns out that 21 of those original flavours have the chemical in such small amounts that it is either below the level of detection or just barely detectable, so averaging them there is average mass of 5.7ppm if we include the outlier that rises to 10.5ppm Sounds bad right, well lets look at the levels of this compound found in traditional cigarettes: 250 - 361ppm (according to a 2014 report from the Critical Reviews in Toxicology Journal link here) lets average that out to 305.5 µg so even with my shitty maths and stats skills I can calculate that an average e cig has at best only 1.87% and at worst (with the outlier) 3.4% of the compound compared to traditional cigarettes therefore even on it's worst product that we should be treating as the exception not the rule vaping is better on diacetyl.
On to 2,3-pentanedione then. Yet again our peach shnaps is an outlier providing 64.4 µg per ecig and also 38 of the juices had barely detecable levels, and traditional cigarettes? 32.2 to 50.1 ppm so average to 41.15so in comparisson the e cigs without the outlier have an average of 1.3ppm and with the outlier 2.53 in percentage that is 3.16 - 6.15%
And what about Acetoin? I have the flu and can't be arsed: Homework anyone?
Anyway I hope that you get the jist
And why oh why did the researchers not mention this once, I mean they didn't even mention traditional cigarettes? Well I think they must have known that this research would make the headlines and therefore garner attention and therefore fulfill the 'public engagement' part of their next research grant application. They of course use the next best pacifier to 'Hitler did it' by stating
'Diacetyl, a flavoring compound associated with the development of “Popcorn Lung” in workers after inhalation exposure, was detected in 39 of the 51 flavored e-cigarettes tested in this study, including flavors that have particular appeal to children, teenagers and young adults'
In other words WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN!!!
Well lets look at the data on that from Public Health England available for free here
'The authors find that among adults and youth, regular use of e-cigarettes is found almost exclusively among those who have already smoked. The highest rates of ecigarette use are found among adult smokers. E-cigarettes have rapidly become the most widely used quitting aid in England'
In other words if young people are using e cigs its most likely because THEY WERE ALREADY SMOKERS. It's all BULLSHIT. Now I'm not saying ooh lets all run out and vape and I'm not saying that ecigs are totally harmless, the data which I have manhandled and 'back of a napkin'd' does not bare that out but what it does is that vaping is massively less harmful than smoking. So dear tabloids please kindly fuck off.