Lab tests reveal popular e-cigarette liquids contain harmful chemicals
Editors note: This report was originally published on Oct. 20, 2015. On Thursday FDA officials were expected to announce new regulations aimed at curtailing teen use of cheap vape deals.
Dripper's Paradise, on Milwaukee's southwest side, carries dozens of brands of smoke juice, including a locally made favorite called Foghorn.
One of Foghorn's top-selling recipes is Randy, a flavor described as a "blend of creamy custard, mixed berries and savory cereal notes."
People who vape praise the Foghorn juice not only for its flavor but for its ability to create giant cloud puffs from deep drags — a growing fascination known as "cloud chasing" among vaping enthusiasts.But the very molecules that make Randy delicious also could make it dangerous. The juice — named after a character in the Canadian TV series "Trailer Park Boys" — contains high levels of two chemicals known to cause permanent and sometimes fatal lung disease: diacetyl and its chemical cousin, 2,3-pentanedione.
There's no way vapers would know; founders of the year-old Foghorn company said they didn't realize it. The only way to determine whether the juice, or e-liquid, includes toxic chemicals would be to test it — which the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did.There are no requirements that manufacturers test their e-liquids, nor are there any standards to meet. What testing is done is driven largely by the desire of e-liquid makers to market the safety of their products.
But the Journal Sentinel's testing led to yet another discovery: The method typically used to analyze e-liquids for the industry is not sensitive enough to detect levels that could be harmful. As a result, e-liquid makers across the country claim their formulas are diacetyl free when sometimes they are not.
"We're at a point where these are not regulated by anyone," said Michael Felberbaum, a spokesman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "It's a 'Buyer Beware' market."