Sep 5, 2019

Health labs identify chemical linked to vaping-related illness

Photo: Lisa Ducret/Getty Images

State and federal health authorities are focusing in on a single chemical as they try to determine the cause of vaping-related illnesses, according to the Washington Post. The compound turned up in marijuana products that patients had used.

Why it matters: Identifying the common chemical gives health officials a potential thread to follow to pinpoint the cause and find the right treatment for a severe pulmonary illness that has killed 2 people and may have afflicted at least 215 more.

Details: The FDA said it did not find anything "unusual" in the nicotine products used by the patients, per the Post.

  • But at least 1 product containing vitamin E acetate has been linked to every patient who provided a sample of their marijuana products. The chemical's oil-like properties "could be associated with the kinds of respiratory symptoms that many patients have reported," per the Post.
  • Vitamin E acetate is not an approved additive for marijuana in New York, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker told the Post, and "as a result, vitamin E acetate is now a key focus,” he said.

Yes, but: Health officials are not yet ruling out contaminants in nicotine vaping products.

  • "Although the discovery of a common chemical in lab tests from the FDA and New York’s highly regarded Wadsworth Center lab offers a potential lead, officials cautioned that they are a long way from understanding what exactly is making so many people sick," the Post notes.

Go deeper

New arrests shed light on vaping's black market

Photo: Lisa Ducret/picture alliance via Getty Images

Police arrested 2 men in a drug bust in Kenosha, Wisconsin, for manufacturing and selling THC-laced vaping cartridges, an illegal practice that could be driving the lung-related illness linked to vaping, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: State and federal health investigators have not determined the cause of the illness, but their ongoing hypothesis is noxious chemicals finding their way into vaping supplies through illegal manufacturing.

Go deeperArrowSep 15, 2019

CDC: THC products linked to vaping-related lung injuries

Vaping liquids and cartridges. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The CDC announced Friday that THC vape products have been linked to a majority of patients with vaping-related lung injuries, citing to data from 1 local and 1 national study.

Why it matters: While the CDC is not shifting its focus away from nicotine, officials said 77% of those with exposure histories reported using products that contain THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, or both THC-containing products and nicotine-containing products.

Go deeperArrowSep 27, 2019

Revenue from marijuana vaping products dips 15% amid health fears

Vape pens. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The legal marijuana industry's revenue from sales of vaping products has dropped 15% amid health fears stemming from a vaping-related lung illness, AP reports.

Why it matters: Most of the patients who were sickened had a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC, the chemical found in marijuana, and nearly all cases were found in people who purchased products from illegal sellers. Federal and state health agencies have advised the public to stop vaping until they can find conclusive evidence about the cause of the illness.

Go deeperArrowSep 26, 2019