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Vaping and vitamin E acetate: What we know

A pedestrian smokes an e-cigarette on November 08, 2019 in San Francisco, California.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

More evidence supports the theory that vitamin E acetate in vaping products may be causing thousands of lung injuries and dozens of deaths among Americans.

Driving the news: Illegal THC-containing e-cigarette or vape products from 11 out of 12 patients in Minnesota with lung injuries also contained vitamin E acetate, according to a report from the CDC on Tuesday.

  • 20 THC-containing products seized during September 2019 contained vitamin E acetate, the study shows. But 10 products tested in 2018 before the outbreak began did not contain the ingredient.

What's happening: Vitamin E acetate is a viscous oil used as an additive in cannabis vape cartridges, allowing thicker clouds to be exhaled.

  • The oil is often used in foods and cosmetics and is not harmful when ingested. Vaporizing and inhaling vitamin E acetate, however, can cause fat to enter the lungs, leading to a sometimes fatal condition called lipoid pneumonia.

The backdrop: The FDA also tested several vape brands in October, which showed vitamin E acetate concentrations of 31% to 88% and lower-than-expected THC concentrations.

  • Most patients interviewed say they obtained these vaping products from black market retailers or from friends, the CDC says.

The bottom line: Health officials are still not ruling out other ingredients or causes of these cases, but cautioned vitamin E acetate should not be added to vaping products.

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