Possible chemical culprit found in vaping illness outbreak

U.S. is focusing on Vitamin E as cause of vaping lung injuries

U.S. is focusing on Vitamin E as cause of vaping lung injuries

But agency officials cautioned they can not rule out all other toxic substances, and it may take animal studies to clearly show vitamin E acetate causes the lung damage that's been seen. The CDC said the lack of THC in five of those samples does not definitively indicate the patients didn't use the drug, because THC can be hard to detect in samples taken from lungs.

A government lab found the same chemical compound in fluid taken from the lungs of 29 patients across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced. It is not clear if the popular e-cigarette brand Juul was found to have vitamin E in their products and numerous patients reported using both nicotine and THC vapes simultaneously.

An investigation into the link between vaping and severe lung illnesses has yielded the discovery of extremely high levels of the chemical vitamin E acetate in almost all cannabis-containing vaping products that were analyzed, NY health officials said Thursday. At the time, investigators said it was "a key focus" of the state's investigation into the illnesses.

But officials said Friday that this is more direct evidence that the chemical may be to blame.

As of November 5, the CDC has tallied 2,051 confirmed and probable EVALI cases in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands. Lab testing found THC, the ingredient that gives marijuana users a high, in 23 of 28 patient samples - including those from three patients who said they hadn't vaped THC products.

About two months ago, NY drew attention to vitamin E acetate when the state's public health lab discovered it in samples of vaping products from sick patients. The substance recently became a go-to substitute for vape juice producers looking to cut corners, especially in black market THC cartridges where there's no oversight or regulation. The investigation has found that many of these products patients used were bought online or received through friends or family, rather than through vaping shops or at licensed THC dispensaries.

Officials tested the samples for a variety of substances, including mineral oils, plant oils, diluent terpenes, cannabinoids, and nicotine, as well as a common component of lung secretions.

Vitamin E is used in several products, such as lotions and in supplements, but the CDC said there is a "big difference" in putting vitamin E on the skin or swallowing it in pill and in inhaling the oily vitamin.

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. Some earlier work by non-CDC researchers has suggested that it could interfere with normal lung function when inhaled, Schuchat noted to reporters Friday.

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