There is a VAPING CRISIS currently underway! A new, swiftly manifesting, life threatening illness has been linked to Vaping. Are you at risk? Put down the e-cigarette and get some information before putting it back in your mouth.
As of October 1st, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (the CDC) had reported 1,080 cases of VAPI- vaping-associated-pulmonary injury.
(There is also another term, EVALI, which stands for e-cigarette and vaping associated lung injury. )
The report started with a handful of cases announced at the end of July, after patients showed up in emergency rooms with a mysterious and fast-progressing respiratory illness that had no known cause. Doctors discovered only one common denominator between the patients: Their vaping habit.
The FDA, CDC and State Health Officials stepped in to investigate so they can determine a specific cause, and how to prevent, diagnose and treat Vape-related illnesses in the future.
So far, the lung disease has not been linked to any specific device, brand, or flavor of vape, but some ingredients have been singled out as possible culprits.
These ingredients are not usually present in regulated products, and have been found highly prevalent in black market, or knockoff vaping hardware.
Currently, the main suspects in this ongoing investigation are Vitamin E oil and THC. Both were used and inhaled by the VAPI patients.
The VAPI/EVALI illness typically begins with shortness of breath, coughing, fatigue, fever, symptoms of severe pneumonia, and respiratory failure. It has affected mostly young people so far, and the death toll is still rising.
There are two related hot topics that have come up due to the Vaping Illness crisis:
Teen vaping, and illicit vaping products.
Teen vaping has been a rising concern for a while.
Long before an 18-year-old in Wisconsin walked into her doctor’s office gasping for air in July, there has been a general panic about the teen vaping rate. Public health officials, pediatricians, and parents, were all expressing their concerns.
In 2018, Scott Gottlieb, who was then the head of the FDA, labeled youth vaping an “epidemic” and declared his intent to target teen vaping and curb illegal e-cigarette sales.
Bans especially targeted flavored vape products, which teens favor. The flavor makes the products seem more innocuous than they actually are, and teens forget to be cautious with them.
The other issue that has come up is the origin of the THC and Vitamin E oil, which are likely the culprits that caused the VAPI.
THC is the psychoactive substance in marijuana. Cannabis products are already under a federal ban in most states. Even in states where cannabis sale is legal, sales are still age-restricted.
There is a thriving illicit THC and flavored vaping products market, though, where the items are not regulated or tested.
As reference, before any licensed California cannabis producer can send out their products, the company has to send them to a lab to test for numerous toxins. Just as an example, at the California CannaSafe lab, products are tested for 66 pesticides, heavy metals, solvents, mold-related toxins, and more (including mouse hairs). Now, after VAPI, the company will be testing for Vitamin E oils as well.
Recently, CannaSafe obtained and tested some 100 black-market THC oils. There were pesticides in them that would have failed California’s standards. There was a presence of Vitamin E in about 90% of the oils.
One of the pesticides CannaSafe found in unregulated THC above tolerated levels was Myclobutanil, (also called Eagle 20) which converts to hydrogen cyanide when heated.
Hydrogen Cyanide is a base for Zyklon-B, the gas the Nazis used in the gas chambers.
In legal cannabis, California regulations permit no more than 100 parts per billion of hydrogen cyanide to be present.
Due to the high level of unregulated THC products available for sale, some states have taken to banning e-cigarettes entirely. Critics, however, claim that if there are less approved and regulated products available, more people will flock to buy the stuff from illicit sources, making the problem worse, and not better.
So, before you pick up that e-cigarette, think about where you bought the parts and accessories.
Always double check on the dispensary/store/seller to make sure they are abiding by the product’s safety regulations, especially if you are smoking something with THC in it.
FDA officials said investigators from its Office of Criminal Investigations have been pursuing a parallel investigation since shortly after the illnesses were first reported this summer. They are investigating criminal activities involving FDA-regulated products, arresting those responsible for breaches in said regulations and bringing them before the Justice Department for prosecution. The focus of the investigation is the chain of supply, so if you come forward with information as a retailer, they may not be prosecuting you.
The public has been urged to be vigilant about any unregulated vaping products they are using themselves, or those used by family members, and contact their health provider immediately if they develop unusual symptoms. Unknown or unregulated substances are always dangerous to ingest or inhale.
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