Authorities are zeroing in on an additive in some THC and other vaping products as a “potential toxin” that may be cause of thousands of mysterious vaping-related illnesses, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Friday.
The potential breakthrough is centered on a Vitamin E acetate, which was found from in lung patient samples from sick patients. The acetate was found in all 29 samples that were collected and tested, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, said during a teleconference with reporters.
THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, was found in 23 of the samples that came from patients in 10 different states, she said. Nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco, was found in 16 of the samples that were collected through the end of October.
"These new findings are significant because for the first time we have detected a potential toxin of concern, Vitamin E acetate, in bilogic samples from patients with lung injuries associated with the use of e-cigarette or vaping products," she said.
Schuchat said the findings provide "direct evidence of Vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury within the lungs."
But the CDC officials who spoke to reporters cautioned that more work yet remains to be done.
"These findings do not rule out other possible compounds of ingredients that may be causing these lung injuries," Schuchat said. "There may be more than one cause of the outbreak."
There have been 2,051 cases of what the CDC is calling EVALI, or E-cigarette, or Vaping, product use Associated Lung Injury.
Thirty-nine people have died as of Nov. 5, according to CDC data, and additional investigations are ongoing.
The CDC is cautioning the public against using vaping devices, particularly those that contain THC.
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