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A vaping store in New York City. Photo: by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Lung injuries from vaping are "most likely" caused by direct toxicity or tissue damage from noxious chemical fumes, the Mayo Clinic said in a statement Wednesday announcing new findings. But the researchers cautioned the study is in its early stages and based on a small sample size.

Why it matters: Scientists are trying to determine the cause of the vaping-associated lung disease, which has led to at least 17 deaths, more than 800 reported injuries in almost all U.S. states, and bans on various vaping and tobacco products.

Details: In the letter published Oct. 2 in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers reviewed lung biopsies from 17 patients, "all of whom had vaped and were suspected to have vaping-associated lung injury," the Mayo Clinic said.

  • Lipids, fatty substances found in mineral oils were suspected as a possible cause of the lung injuries associated with vaping, but the researchers in this study found no evidence of this causing the tissue injury.
"While we can't discount the potential role of lipids, we have not seen anything to suggest this is a problem caused by lipid accumulation in the lungs. Instead, it seems to be some kind of direct chemical injury, similar to what one might see with exposures to toxic chemical fumes, poisonous gases and toxic agent."
— Mayo Clinic Arizona surgical pathologist Brandon Larsen, in statement

Go deeper: U.S. investigates fatality from vaping as lung-related illnesses rise

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Shooting at Michigan high school leaves 3 dead, 8 wounded

Police cars restrict access to Oxford High School following the shooting in Oxford, Michigan, on Tuesday. Photo: Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

A 15-year-old sophomore was arrested after a shooting at a Michigan high school that left three people dead and eight others wounded Wednesday, according to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

The latest: Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said at a briefing Tuesday night that the suspect's father had on Friday bought the 9mm Sig Sauer pistol investigators believe was used in the shooting at Oxford High School. Authorities released the names of the victims late Tuesday.

City Council member Andre Dickens wins Atlanta mayoral race

Atlanta Mayor-elect Andre Dickens in Atlanta, Georgia, late Tuesday. Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

City Council member Andre Dickens won a runoff election Tuesday to become Atlanta's next mayor, soundly beating the council's president Felicia Moore.

The big picture: Dickens was just a few months ago considered to have an outside chance of replacing Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who announced in May that she wouldn't seek a second term.

UN report: Pandemic set to cost global tourism $2 trillion in 2021

A tourist in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Nov. 25. Photo:Chesnot/Getty Images

A new United Nations report warns that global tourism will see only modest revenue gains in 2021 after last year's historic losses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: Tourism revenues in 2020 fell by more than half from the previous year — a significant blow to the global economy, according to analysis by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).