The Mystery Behind the Vaping-Linked Illnesses and Deaths
The use of nicotine or cannabis vaporizers has been the cause of five reported deaths due to severe lung injury. Federal officials are investigating three more deaths from a mysterious illness that may have affected over 450 users of the devices around the U.S. While the investigation is still ongoing, health officials are strongly advising people to stop the usage of electronic cigarettes and other vaping products.
What are E-Cigarettes and other Vaping Products?
E-cigarettes are small, battery-operated devices that heat nicotine solution into a vapor, which users then inhale, or vape. Advocates for the product have argued that vaping may be healthier than smoking due to the gadgets producing water vapor rather than smoke. Some vaping products contain THC, the chemical compound marijuana that produces a high. The substances that are usually found in vaping products include flavorings, nicotine, cannabinoids, and solvents.
Tragic Death of Man in Illinois
An investigation by state health departments in Illinois and Wisconsin traces the first signs of illness among 53 tracked patients to April. According to the Illinois Department of Public, the death of an Illinois man is linked to a severe respiratory disease after vaping. Illinois public health officials found that in relation to the death of this man were respiratory symptoms including cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue, which were linked to the vaping. In other cases, some also experienced vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms worsened over a period of days or weeks before admission to the hospital. The American Vaping Association, a nonprofit that advocates for sensible regulation of vaping products, released the following statement on their website: “While there is no concrete evidence linking the patient’s death to vaping as of yet, this news follows two weeks of releases by numerous state and local health departments linking the use of black market, amateur-made THC cartridges to severe lung issues.”
Who is Affected?
Although most victims have been young, all those who have died were adults. One victim was 65, one middle-aged and another identified as older and suffering from chronic health problems.
The Cause of the Illnesses
Officials are still unaware of what’s actually causing people to fall ill, but think that chemicals have a lot to do with it. Investigators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the same vitamin E-derived oil in marijuana products vaped by multiple people sickened around the country. However, they cannot yet pin the illnesses on this discovery. Another factor in relation to the illnesses is that there are no particular vaping devices or products linked to all cases. There could also be potential contamination or counterfeit that is still being investigated, as many victims report buying marijuana on the street rather than from a store. According to the state’s health department, Vitamin acetate was present in almost all of the cannabis samples from victims identified in New York.
Vaping is Common Around the World
In 2011 there was approximately 7 million vape users, since the number has risen to 35 million a few years ago. This is as smoking rates decline. E-cigarettes were initially supposed to help smokers quit while gibing those addicted to nicotine a safer option than burning tobacco. According to the CDC, health professionals believed vaping to be safer than traditional smoking, which kills 8 million people per year. However, the FDA has not yet vetted vaping products – meaning that the long-term consequences of using e-cigarettes remain unclear.