Vaping Illness Culprit Potentially Identified By Centers For Disease Control

The illness has sickened more than 2,000 people since May.

a woman exhales e cigarette vapor
tomkohhantsuk / Pixabay

The illness has sickened more than 2,000 people since May.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believes it has identified the culprit behind the vaping illness that has sickened more than 2,000 people since early May, Yahoo Lifestyle reports. They believe that Vitamin E is behind the disease or “e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury” (EVALI) as the disease has been named.

Beginning in May, as previously reported by The Inquisitr, teenagers and young people along the Illinois-Indiana border began turning up in hospitals with mysterious lung ailments that mimicked routine, but severe, lung infections. However, the patients did not respond to treatment, and some were so sick they required respiratory support in intensive care.

Soon, it was clear that the illness wasn’t just limited to that part of the Midwest, or to only teenagers and young people. Over the next few months, the number of those sickened reached into the hundreds, then the thousands. People were not just getting sick; some were dying.

The only thing the patients had in common was that they had “vaped” — that is, they had used electronic devices that heat an oil containing the chemical they’re trying to consume, be it nicotine or marijuana. Other than that, authorities couldn’t pin down any other similarities in the cases, such as using products from the same manufacturer. Also, the fact that some users got sick after vaping nicotine while some got sick after vaping an oil containing marijuana confounded health officials even further.

a man uses an electronic vaporizer pen
  lindsayfox / Pixabay

Now, the CDC has finally found a common thread. Looking at fluid from the lungs of 29 patients in 10 states, researchers found that 82 percent had tested positive for THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana), and 61 percent tested positive for nicotine, 100 percent tested positive for a substance that had long been suspected as being the culprit: Vitamin E acetate.

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“These new findings are significant because for the first time we have detected a potential toxin of concern,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC. She was quick to point out that the results are too preliminary to conclude with 100 percent certainty that Vitamin E is the only cause of the illnesses. However, her team ruled out multiple other potential causes, such as mineral oil or plant oil.

Though Vitamin E is healthy when eaten, it’s believed to be dangerous when inhaled into the lungs.

Authorities believe that the oil made its way into counterfeit and black-market nicotine and marijuana vaporizer cartridges via unscrupulous sellers who used the oil to dilute the nicotine or marijuana to increase their profits.