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Federal investigators indicate there may be more than one cause for the recent outbreak of vaping lung injuries, which have caused thousands of reports involving illness nationwide, including at least 60 deaths. However, while prior reports have suggested the vaping problems are linked to e-cigarettes featuring THC, officials indicate other factors may be involved in injuries among users of nicotine-only products.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has previously linked the majority of illnesses to vape pens containing THC and vitamin E acetate, as part of an investigation into an outbreak that has included at least 3,000 reports of problems over the past year.
In a new report published last week in the CDC Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, officials warn there may also be other chemicals and substances in nicotine-only products that don’t contain THC or vitamin E acetate, which may be responsible for some vaping lung injuries.
After the vaping lung injury outbreak emerged in June 2019, the number of new illnesses has begun to decrease in recent weeks. However, new cases continue to be reported, as well as new deaths.
About 82% of E-cigarette, or Vaping, Product Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) patients nationwide lung illness patients report using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) containing products. However, 14% of patients reported using only nicotine vaping products, and there has been was no evidence to indicate those cases involved use of any THC containing vaping products.
The report looked at 121 interviewed lung injury patients in Illinois, nine of whom reported using only nicotine-containing products and had no THC use whatsoever.
“The contributing cause or causes of EVALI for patients reporting use of only nicotine-containing products warrants further investigation,” CDC researchers wrote. “Evidence is not sufficient to rule out the contribution of other chemicals of concern, including chemicals in either THC or non-THC products, in some of the reported cases.”
At about the same time, the CDC has rescinded a recommendation that everyone avoid the use of vaping products which has been posted for months on the agency website. The warning was posted last summer at the beginning of the investigation into the illnesses.
However, the CDC still recommends youth, pregnant women and non-tobacco users avoid vaping or use of any electronic nicotine delivery systems.
The agency also still recommends people not use THC containing e-cigarettes from non-verified sources. The CDC report indicates many of the people affected by the vaping lung illnesses used products from informal and untrustworthy sources or sources that were not vetted, such as from friends, dealers, or online dealers.
The CDC specifically recommends consumers avoid using products with vitamin E acetate. Vitamin E should not be added to any vape products.