PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – The Center for Disease Control has announced what they’re calling a breakthrough in the recent outbreak of vaping-related illnesses and deaths.
The agency says Vitamin-E Acetate, sometimes used as an additive in vaping products, may be partially to blame.
The CDC and other agencies across the country have been urging people to stop vaping use until more can be learned about the causes of recent more than 2,000 illnesses and dozens of deaths.
“Vitamin E acetate is a form of Vitamin E, you can see it in lotions and stuff, it’s a lipid or a fatty substance–a thick substance–and it’s thought to be used to thicken some of the e-liquids,” Asha Chesnutt, a pulmonary and critical care physician, said.
The CDC says Vitamin-E Acetate was found in all 29 samples they took from patients with vaping illnesses across different states. Health officials say some manufacturers are boosting profits by adding the chemical and reducing amounts of lead ingredients, like THC.
That’s frustrating for some Oregon companies who make cannabis oil, like the CO2 Company, who says they don’t use cutting agents like Vitamin-E Acetate.
Employee Ryan Walsh says his company’s products are sold in nearly 300 Oregon stores.
“We try to create products and vape cartridges that are true to the plant,” Walsh said.
Walsh says he is concerned about the dark cloud that’s formed over the industry this past year.
“A lot of people in the industry felt that this was something created by people in the black market…,” Walsh said.
While no single cause of the illnesses and deaths tied to vaping has been identified by health officials yet, the numbers in just a few months are alarming.
In Oregon, there have been 17 cases of vaping-related lung injuries documented so far. Officials says two of the cases have resulted in death. Washington state hasn’t had any deaths, but 14 people there have gotten sick. In both states, many of the cases involve children.
In light of the CDC’s new findings, the Washington State Department of Health put out a statement Friday night asking producers, distributers, and sellers of products that have Vitamin-E Acetate to stop immediately.
But doctors warn there may be other chemicals in vape liquid, especially those bought on the streets, that could be dangerous.
“I think it’s going to be multifactorial,” Chesnutt said. “I don’t think there’s going to be, at the end of the day, one specific causative agent.”
With the remaining unknowns, the CDC is still urging people to avoid all vape oil products until the exact cause of the illnesses and deaths is determined.
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