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Federal health regulators have identified the presence of vitamin E acetate used in THC liquids for vaping devices as a contributing cause of more than 2,000 respiratory injuries, and dozens of deaths in recent months.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a detailed summary last week of data collected during an on-going investigation into lung illnesses from vaping and e-cigarettes, in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), indicating that traces of synthetic vitamin E oil were found in lung fluid samples of those who became ill.
According to the latest CDC update, 2,290 vaping lung illnesses have been reported in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, impacting citizens throughout the United States, except for Alaska. In addition, the CDC has confirmed at least 48 vaping deaths due to lung complications, which have occurred in 24 states and D.C.
In this latest report, officials outline the findings of federal and state health agencies, who reviewed samples of lung fluid collected from 29 patients, and discovered traces of synthetic vitamin E oils in each case.
Vitamin E is found in many products, including food, supplements and lotions. While skin exposure to vitamin E is not believed to cause harm, no research is available to determine the impact it may have on the respiratory system when heated and inhaled.
The CDC’s investigation indicates the introduction of vitamin E oils into THC vaping products has aligned with the recent influx of vaping injuries and deaths across the nation. In 2018, the agency seized a limited number THC liquid products and did not identify any ingredients of vitamin E. However, the portion of THC liquids seized by the CDC thus far in 2019 has verified the vitamins presence in each illness case.
Currently, the CDC and state officials believe vitamin E oils may have been introduced into the THC vape liquids as a diluent or filler, but are currently working to determine when the vitamins were introduced into vaping liquids across the country.
The link to vitamin E acetate was first mentioned by New York State Department of Health investigators in early September, after the substance became a key focus of their own investigation. Since the initial discovery, New York has since issued a ban on all flavored electronic cigarettes.
Lung illness from vaping was first reported by health officials in Illinois and Wisconsin in early August, after several cases of severe lung injury were identified, where e-cigarettes were the only common factor. However, since then, health officials nationwide have either identified similar cases, or realized they had treated similar cases without knowing about the e-cigarette connection.
In recent months, even beyond the lung injuries, there has been increased scrutiny of e-cigarettes, which have become the most popular form of nicotine among teens and young adults. In addition to the risk of e-cigarette respiratory illnesses, there is also now a new generation of teens addicted to JUUL, which contains high levels of nicotine and was aggressively marketed to individuals who were not prior cigarette smokers.
A growing number of JUUL injury lawsuits are now being pursued against the manufacturers, alleging that the products were illegally marketed to kids while failing to disclose that each of the e-cigarette pods contain more nicotine than a pack of tobacco cigarettes.