CDC Reports Breakthrough on Vaping Illnesses

CDC Reports Breakthrough on Vaping Illnesses

Health investigators have pointed to Vitamin E acetate as a potential culprit in the illnesses since early on in the outbreak, and health officials in NY earlier reported their suspicion of the ingredient in September.

While the CDC's initial warnings included telling people to avoid "e-cigarettes", they have finally updated their message to state that by e-cigarettes they really mean vaping products, and that right now they're specifically concerned about THC vapes.

As of November 5, more than 2,000 confirmed and suspected cases of EVALI were reported to the CDC.

Health officials believe the dead and injured patients used psychoactive THC-containing liquids bought off the black market that were diluted with a common chemical additive that, under vaping conditions, becomes risky.

Vitamin E acetate, an additive sometimes used in THC and other vaping products, may be to blame for a national outbreak of e-cigarette-related lung injuries that's linked to dozens of deaths, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials.

"No other potential toxins were detected" in the lungs of victims, she said.

Recent CDC laboratory testing of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid samples (or samples of fluid collected from the lungs) from 29 patients with EVALI submitted to CDC from 10 states found vitamin E acetate in all of the BAL fluid samples.

Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director at the CDC, called it a "breakthrough" in their investigation.

While vitamin E is safe as a vitamin pill or to use on the skin, inhaling oily droplets of it can be harmful. Health investigators have said since almost the beginning of the outbreak in mid-August that some ingredients, including vitamin E acetate, could be responsible for some of the lung illness cases. Eighty-six percent admitted that they have had vaped THC products. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, was found in the majority of samples and nicotine was found in about half of samples. Nicotine was detected in 16 of 26 patients.

The results were published on Friday in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Vitamin E acetate has been highlighted as a huge concern by proponents of vaping for months, and once people began falling ill it seemed like the most likely culprit.

Until the investigation is complete, the CDC suggests people refrain from using all vaping products with THC, no matter where people buy them. The CDC also tested the samples for other chemicals commonly found or added to THC products, like mineral oil, terpenes and more, but none were detected in the samples. "While no definitive cause has been found, as I've said from the very beginning: if you don't know what you are smoking, don't smoke it".

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