Vitamin E Acetate Linked to Vaping-Related Lung Injury and Deaths
Is vitamin E acetate responsible for the recent epidemic of e-cigarette and vaping product associated lung injury (EVALI)?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports it has reached a “breakthrough” in its investigation into the cause of a string of recent illnesses and deaths associated with e-cigarette use. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director at the CDC, said that recent research provides “direct evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury within the lungs.”
In a statement to reporters, Schuchat characterized vitamin E acetate as “a very strong culprit of concern.”
The CDC was careful to note that the findings announced do not mean that other chemicals are not involved. However, in tests seeking to identify other potentially harmful substances in EVALI patients’ lung fluids, Schuchat said, “No other potential toxins were detected.”
Vitamin E acetate, an oil derived from the vitamin, was found in all 29 lung fluid samples analyzed by the CDC. The samples were taken from patients who had either fallen ill or died from vaping-linked lung injuries.
Concern over THC-containing vaping products
Previously, the CDC had suggested a potential link between the lung injuries and vaping products containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
The CDC remains cautious about THC-containing vaping products.
According to the CDC, THC was found in the lung fluid of 23 of the 29 patients examined.
As of early November, 39 deaths from lung injury associated with vaping have been confirmed across the United States. Thousands of patients have been diagnosed with EVALI.
What is vitamin E acetate?
Vitamin E acetate is an oil derived from vitamin E. According to a report in the Washington Post, the oil is frequently used “as a cutting agent or additive on the cannabis black market to stretch the amount of THC in vape cartridges.”
The Post reports that the vitamin E acetate is a popular additive in illicit vaping cartridges in part because it is colorless, odorless, and similar in viscosity and much cheaper than THC.
Dr. Michelle Francl, a chemistry professor at Bryn Mawr College, described vitamin E acetate as similar to grease.
After vitamin E acetate is heated to the point at which it is inhaled as vapor, Francl points out that it can decompose, and “now you’re breathing in who-knows-what.”
While vitamin E acetate is found in many foods and cosmetics, it is can “interfere with normal lung function” when heated and inhaled, according to Schuchat.
Jim Pirkle, director of the laboratory science division at the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, said that vitamin E acetate is sticky, like honey, and that “when it goes into the lung, it does hang around.”
A Warning to Vapers
Despite the CDC findings, public health experts caution that more research must be done.
According to Scott Becker, executive director of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, “While this is a big step in helping us understand what may be causing these injuries, these findings do not rule out the potential for other compounds or ingredients as contributing factors.”
“There may be more than one cause of the outbreak.”
As further testing is completed, the CDC continues to caution consumers from using all vaping and e-cigarette products.
Have you been injured after using JUUL or other e-cigarettes?
If you’ve been diagnosed with lung injury (EVALI) or cancer after using JUUL e-cigarettes or other vaping products, you may be entitled to compensation.
For more information on vaping health risks and JUUL lawsuits, please visit our e-cigarette health risks and JUUL lawsuits FAQ page.
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