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Acetoin is a hydroxy-ketone very close to diacetyl. Like the latter, it is a flavouring agent which gives buttery creamy notes to the e-liquid. However, it has a taste power much less than diacetyl or acetyl propionyl. Therefore, it is in general found in much greater amounts in formulations.
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To date, little data is available as to the effects in inhalation of acetoin. According to the report of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), it has only little toxicity. Nevertheless, it remains in the list of substances to be monitored because the amounts used in e-liquids can be up to 100 times greater than molecules such as diacetyl or acetyl propionyl. Finally, because of the structural similarity between acetoin and diacetyl, the question of the conversion of the first into the second remains relevant and unresolved.
The ingésciences laboratory checks for manufacturers the levels of acetoin in e-liquids and flavours. Its proximity to diacetyl makes it a good candidate for future standardisation. Moreover, the concentration of acetoin would considerably influence the ageing of the product by favouring the appearance of diacetyl in particular. Checking its level to anticipate future development of the product appears essential for the manufacturers of e-liquids and flavours.
In regulatory terms, since 2016 the manufacturers of e-liquids must declare on a European notification platform the composition of all the products containing nicotine (e-liquid and emission). In application of the TPD, the European directive on tobacco products. For this, all the components of an e-liquid having a concentration greater than 0.1% must be known and quantified. So, it is necessary to know the concentration of acetoin present in the product in order to make this declaration. Our OpenSciences laboratory determines this level in e-liquids for the manufacturers of e-liquids and flavours.
E-cigarettes are a risk reduction tool. Their use is tending to be the most responsible possible. For product improvement purposes, it appears essential for sector actors to inform individuals of the risks they run in inhaling potentially dangerous molecules. To further their quality approach, e-liquid manufacturers can also look for the presence of diacetyl and acetyl propionyl in their products.
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