US health officials announced a breakthrough Friday into the cause of a mysterious outbreak of vaping illnesses, reporting they have a "very strong culprit".
The Centers for Disease Control said the additive, which can cause serious lung injury when vaped, was found in 29 patients from ten different states who were all diagnosed with EVALI, or e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury.
The CDC reports that all samples of damaged lung tissue contained traces of vitamin E acetate, and that's something that should not be in your lungs.
In the CDC analysis, THC was detected in 23 of 28 patient samples of lung cells, including from three patients who said they did not use THC products.
But officials said Friday that this is more direct evidence that the chemical may be to blame.
Vitamin E acetate is a common additive in many cosmetic and food products; it is considered safe when applied to the skin or consumed, but evidence indicates that it may be unsafe when inhaled. Vaping-related lung damage has been responsible for 39 deaths, and an additional 2,051 individuals have fallen ill, according to The New York Times.
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The findings are being published in Friday's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Previous studies have found that when vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it may affect lung function, she said. They quickly realized that vitamin E acetate was present in every single one of them. NY state officials identified it as a possible culprit in September. Of these samples, the officials found that 82-percent also tested positive for THC and 62-percent tested positive for nicotine.
The testing also detected nicotine in 16 of 26 samples.
On Nov. 8, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed August 30 Leafly findings of a new, toxic cutting agent in the illicit THC vape cart supply chain-vitamin E acetate. Numerous injured also reported using counterfeit or black-market products containing THC, notably those marketed as "Dank Vapes".
State health officials in NY had first identified vitamin E acetate from several samples collected in August that were analyzed by the Wadsworth Center lab. But none of them were found in the lung fluid samples.
He described vitamin E Acetate as "oily - not kind of a common oil, but it's an oily substance". There are legally produced THC vaping products in some states, but better to be safe than sorry. Another MMWR report published today, found through a survey conducted in IL, that patients who had EVALI were about nine times more likely to have gotten their products from informal sources such as a friend, a family member or the black market. It's not known to cause harm when swallowed or applied to the skin, Schuchat said.