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Mysterious Lung Illness Associated with Vaping

by Daniel Purizhansky

Photo: Lindsay Fox

Throughout the last month, news of a vape lung illness has been dominating headlines nationwide. Officials from the Center of Disease Control have reported at least 450 vape illness cases in 33 states throughout the United States related to inhaling e-cigarette and marijuana vapor. Although initial symptoms of the illness resemble pneumonia, health officials believe the disease is caused by chemical irritation rather than infection. 

Symptoms reported by patients and hospitals include shortness of breath, intense coughing, chest pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Symptoms may worsen over a period of hours, days, or weeks, and 5 adult deaths have already been confirmed by the CDC in states such as California, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Minnesota. 

One substance being investigated in relation to the illness was Vitamin E Acetate, a skin oil product now being found in cartridges containing THC, the dominant ingredient in marijuana. FDA commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless advised consumers not to buy vape products from the streets and to stay away from THC cartridges, as most of the patients hospitalized reported using them prior to getting sick.

The State of Michigan has passed legislation to ban flavored e-cigarette flavors, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced his intention to introduce a similar bill in the state. As this story is still developing, CDC officials recommend vapers stay informed on this topic in the weeks to come.

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