The US is zeroing in on marijuana vapes as it investigates a spate of mysterious illnesses and deaths tied to vaping

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new information on the ongoing investigation into illnesses and deaths tied to vaping.
  • CDC collected information from people who experienced an illness linked to vaping. 77% reported using products containing THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
  • "The latest findings from the investigation into lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use, or vaping, suggest THC products play a role in the outbreak," CDC said.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is zeroing in on the role of vapes containing THC as it investigates a spate of illnesses and deaths linked to vaping.

Across the US, 805 people have become ill and 12 have died from the mysterious lung illness. CDC said it still doesn't know for sure what's causing the outbreak, and that it's not focused solely on products containing THC.

The agency said that about 77% of people who were ill reported using vapes containing THC, which is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. About 16% said they only used e-cigarettes containing nicotine.

"The latest findings from the investigation into lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use, or vaping, suggest THC products play a role in the outbreak," CDC said in a statement.

The agency reiterated its warning that people should stop buying vaping and e-cig products that have THC and nicotine, as it cannot rule out nicotine-containing devices as a cause for these illnesses.

Read more: Officials have confirmed 12 deaths and 805 cases of serious lung disease tied to vaping. Here are all the health risks you should know about.

CDC said it's still not clear whether any single product, substance, or brand is linked to the outbreak of illnesses. Adding to the difficulty for investigators, there's an enormous amount of variety when it comes to vaping devices, ingredients, and brands — making it difficult to pinpoint any single cause.

"We do not know yet what exactly is making people sick," Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said on a conference call. She said the agency hasn't determined "whether particular solvents or adulterants are leading to lung injury, or whether cases stem from a single supplier or multiple ones."

Because cannabis is illegal in much of the US, vapes containing THC are largely unregulated. CDC said most of the THC-containing products that were tied to the illnesses were obtained from "informal sources," such as people's friends or from a dealer.

A recent study of 18 THC-containing vape cartridges commissioned by NBC News showed that 13 out of the 15 cartridges obtained from the illicit market contained vitamin-E acetate, and ten of the illicit cartridges were found to contain the pesticide myclobutanil, which can turn into hydrogen cyanide when heated.

Some reports have suggested that vitamin E acetate, which has been found in some of the products, may play a role in the illnesses. The US Food and Drug Administration has been testing samples of vaping products linked to the illnesses.

Read more: Black market marijuana vapes containing substances like alcohol and caffeine may be to blame for spate of mysterious lung illnesses

Because vaping is a relatively new practice, there's still a lot we don't know about its health effects, particularly over the long term, Business Insider's Erin Brodwin has reported. Recently-discovered health risks range from a heightened exposure to toxic metals to a potentially higher risk of a heart attack.

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