Vitamin E Acetate Likely Caused Vaping Illness
In recent months, the US has seen an outbreak of vaping-related illnesses. A recent paper in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that 94% of fluid samples from the lungs of 51 people in 16 states who developed breathing problems after using e-cigarettes contained vitamin E acetate. There was no vitamin E acetate in samples from people who used e-cigarettes without THC. THC is the component of cannabis that gives the user a high.
Experts say vaping in itself was probably not to blame for the outbreak of illness that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the US says has so far affected 2,500 people, causing 54 deaths.
The timing of the surge in emergency cases, peaking in September, also provided a clue. In Minnesota, the paper’s authors say, THC-containing products seized by law enforcement officers in 2018 did not contain vitamin E acetate. In September 2019, all of them did.
Dr. Benjamin C Blount, from the CDC, said, “The addition of vitamin E acetate to product fluid began to appear in the illicit market in late 2018 or early 2019 and gained popularity in 2019. Pure THC oil has a viscosity like that of vitamin E acetate. Cutting THC oil with vitamin E has been reported to be common in the illicit market.”