Published: Sat, November 09, 2019
Medical | By Mark Scott

Federal officials identify 'chemical of concern' linked to 39 vaping deaths

Federal officials identify 'chemical of concern' linked to 39 vaping deaths

Tests of lung samples taken from 29 patients with vaping-related lung injuries suggest all contained Vitamin E acetate, officials announced Friday.

Numerous products used by those who became ill were illicitly obtained, public health experts have said, by patients who bought them from friends or on the street. The announcement doesn't officially rule out that other possible ingredients may be causing the lung injuries, but a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said no other potential toxins were detected in its tests.

The oil was found in all 29 samples, the Post reported.

Doctors still don't know how to treat the illness that has been dubbed "EVAL" (short for 'e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury) beyond supportive therapy like putting patients on respirators and, perhaps, steroid treatment.

Vitamin E acetate is not known to cause harm to humans when applied to the skin or swallowed, and is often used in cosmetics, according to Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director at the CDC. Vitamin E acetate is sometimes added to dilute the THC to increase profits or as a thickening agent. The investigation has found that many of these products patients used were bought online or received through friends or family, rather than through vaping shops or at licensed THC dispensaries. Nicotine was detected in 16 of 26 patient samples.

Vitamin E acetate, which is used in food and skin care products without adverse effects, is used as a cutting agent or additive on the cannabis black market because it is colorless, odorless and low-cost, and has a consistency similar to THC oil. THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, was also found in 23 patients, including three who said they had not used THC products. "For the first time we have identified a potential toxin of concern, in biologic samples".

Trump had called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration to study the issue in September, and said regulators planned to ban all flavored e-cigarettes.

The findings are being published in Friday's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

However, when inhaled in a vaporized state, it can interfere with the normal function of the lung. "Until the relationship of vitamin E acetate and lung health is better characterized, it is important that vitamin E acetate not be added to e-cigarette, or vaping, products", the authors concluded.

The new data paints a more damning picture for the oil.

The findings reinforce the agency's recommendation that people should not use vaping products containing THC, particularly those obtained from informal sources.

Like this: