What is Popcorn Lung? How Do You Get It?

By: Soft Secrets, July 20, 2017

LungsShould vaping enthusiasts worry about popcorn lung?

If you’re a regular vaper, you might’ve heard some of your fellow cohorts ask this question: “what is popcorn lung?” Unfortunately, it’s not a delightful-but-weirdly-named snack for when you get the munchies, but a pretty gnarly and irreversible lung disease. Are you wondering what the nitty-gritty is on popcorn lung, and what the risks are of getting it if you vape on-the-go while keeping it on the down-low, or smoke plain e-cigarettes on the reg? We’ve got the scoop right here.

What is Popcorn Lung?

In 2015, the United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a report which put to rest the myth that vaping is harmless when it comes to your health. As summarized, samples of 51 different flavors of e-cigarettes were tested for the presence of a chemical called diacetyl. The importance of testing for these substances in types of vape oil (AKA e-juice or vape juice) is pretty straightforward: overexposure to them causes a lung disease known as bronchiolitis obliterans, or alternatively, obliterative bronchiolitis (OB). The nickname for this disease? You guessed it: popcorn lung.

So what happens when you get popcorn lung? Unfortunately, nothing anyone would particularly like. As the author of this article once reported for Tech Times:

“As the name suggests, those afflicted with the disease experience compression (and even obstruction) in their bronchioles (the minute airway branches in the lungs) due to the build-up of fibrosis, or scar tissue. Symptoms include dry coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.”

Unfortunately for smokers, this means that e-cigs are not a route to quitting smoking entirely; it also means that vaping flavored oil isn’t entirely great for you, either, depending on the kind of e-juice (more on that later). As of now, there is no cure for OB, unless you want a lung transplant.

But why is it called popcorn lung? Good question.

Why Is it Called Popcorn Lung?

No, it doesn’t make your lungs look like burst popcorn. (And if that were the case…ew.) Diacetyl, the harmful chemical that causes OB, is also used as a butter substitute in microwave popcorn and movie theater popcorn.

But what really made the nickname stick? The answer lies in a certain demographic that carries a high rate of infection. In 2000, eight former employees of Gilster Mary-Lee—a popcorn plant—were diagnosed with OB by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Subsequently, this prompted NIOSH to conduct an investigation as to the cause, ultimately discovering that workers who had more exposure to diacetyl at the plant were more likely to develop the illness.

Of course, as the existence of diacetyl in e-cig juice indicates, the chemical also pops up in a number of other things artificially flavored for consumption, according to Joseph Allen, the lead author of the 2015 NIOSH report.


Can You Get Popcorn Lung From Vaping Weed?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information out there on whether vaping weed will give you popcorn lung. (There are, however, a number of Reddit forums dedicated to this particular topic.) Overall, this is where common sense comes into play. If diacetyl is not listed as an ingredient, your risk of developing popcorn lung is relatively low.

And remember: diacetyl is a flavoring agent. If you’re smoking non-flavored juice, chances are it’s less likely to contain it. Luckily, a number of stores have already removed vape juices with high levels of diacetyl from their shelves, so even though you should always check the list of ingredients for whatever juice you buy, you can breathe (and vape) a little easier.

Final Hit: Should You Worry About Popcorn Lung?

So, should vaping enthusiasts worry about popcorn lung? At a cursory level, it couldn’t hurt. We’d advise caution above all else. Even though vape juice is less likely to include diacetyl as an ingredient, just keep an eye out for it.(And remember, science says vaping gives you all of the healthy perks of cannabinoids without the downside of filling your lungs with smoke. Healthy is healthy!)

Overall advice: don’t get popcorn lung and happy vaping!






Share this article Linkedin Pinterest

Read more


STRAIN special 2019 (3)

By: Soft Secrets, April 18, 2019

Table of contents 1. Ocean Grown Cookies 2. OGKZ Humboldt 3. Panama Aceseeds 4. Purplediol Autoflowering CBD Eliteseeds 5. Red Mandarine F1 Fast Version®(SWS79)...

— Read More

The Foliage Growth Stage

By: Thomas Valentine, April 1, 2019

Everyone likes to see big, bushy marijuana plants. But how do you get the thick, bright green foliage you see in pictures? Well, read...

— Read More

Caring For Your Seedlings

By: Soft Secrets, March 29, 2019

So you’ve sprouted your seeds and are looking forward to seeing your first crop flourish. Whether you have 4 plants or 400 plants, the...

— Read More

STRAIN special 2019 (1)

By: Soft Secrets, March 27, 2019

Table of contents 1. Atomic Purple El Nirvana 2. Auto Lemon Zkittle Dutch Passion 3. Auto Medikit Buddha Seeds 4. Blueberry Cookies Dinafem Seeds...

— Read More
SoftSecrets nu ook online

Soft Secrets now also available online

High-profile interviews and current news. Items that strike you and images to inspire you. But also sections on beauty, fashion, food, TV, music, art and film.

All magazines

We use cookies to give you the best possible online experience. By agreement you allow us to use cookies as indicated in our cookies policy.