According to reports, the CDC is struggling to find the source of the issue and to get a firm hold on the situation. For the time being, the CDC is unsure where the problematic vape liquid comes from and who’s distributing it. Initially, health officials alleged that the culprit appeared to be a substance called Vitamin E acetate, which is toxic and potentially deadly if vaporized. It also seems to be the case that the majority (if not all of the reported cases) involved products purchased by street dealers or at markets and contained THC – the psychoactive component in cannabis. Nevertheless, safe e-liquid is something that people want and most certainly deserve.
Many of the reported cases involved teenagers who visited their doctor or the emergency room with breathing difficulties. The issues appear to come from black market E-liquid pods containing THC, although some of the hospitalization cases reportedly used nicotine E-liquid or a mixture of nicotine and THC. A substance called Vitamin E acetate could be the potential culprit for the lung issues, although that is yet to be confirmed. Vitamin E acetate appears to have been used as a thickener in some of the tainted vape pods according to tests carried out at the behest of the CDC. Hydrogen cyanide was also found in several more recent samples tested, and this could also be the ingredient causing the issues and affecting the otherwise safe e-liquid.
According to acting FDA commissioner Ned Sharpless, testing has shown that THC was mixed with “other oils to dilute the product, creating illegal and untested vaping liquids,” according to an ABC report. Almost 80% of those reporting breathing issues – representing around 500 patients – said they had used THC products and not nicotine E-liquids. During a congressional hearing last month, Sharpless said, “A significant fraction of the THC products are contaminated with vitamin E acetate.” Specific guidance and advice from the CDC and FDA is thin on the ground for now. As spokesperson Brian King from the CDC said,
The whole issue, dubbed as a “vaping epidemic” by some, has brought into question the safety of vaping E-cigarettes in general. This has upset many in the (nicotine) vaping industry, and that includes people who’ve been vaping for years without any issues. However, there are many factors still unclear – such as how safe nicotine E-cigarettes are when compared with tobacco. For now, the CDC has warned the public that “the aerosol that users inhale and exhale from e-cigarettes can potentially expose both themselves and bystanders to other harmful substances, including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs.”
Dr. Laura Crotty Alexander, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, also warned that vaping-related diseases could become more prevalent. Nevertheless, she said, according to the same report, “it’s hard to believe that e-cigarettes would be equally harmful or worse than conventional tobacco because conventional tobacco is so bad.” The CDC’s has already stated that E-cigarettes have the “potential to benefit adult smokers who are not pregnant if used as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products,” but that we “still have a lot to learn about whether e-cigarettes are effective for quitting smoking.”
With all the controversy around concerning vaping and the issues with tainted vaping pods leading to lung problems, many people are unsure which vaping products are safe and which are not. To make some sense of the confusion, there are things to look out for and red flags to avoid when it comes to buying vape juice (E-Liquid):
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