Did you know that there are a billion nicotine-addicted smokers worldwide? That’s 1 in every human being on the planet. From lung cancer to stroke, the fallouts from smoking addiction are grave. That’s why vaping has been widely hailed as the best alternative for smokers.
And for the last decade, vaping has gained popularity across the globe and has been enjoying a good reputation. That is until September 2019, when an outbreak of vaping-related illnesses raised the alarm in many quarters.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted an extensive probe into this outbreak. In it’s latest update on the investigation, the CDC reports that there are 2,290 verified and probable cases of lung injury related to the use of vaping products. This occurred in all but one of the 50 states in the US. According to the records, 47 people have died as a result of using vaping products. This is why it’s so important to use the best vaping starter kits.
The CDC conducted an extensive investigation into the breakout of EVALI. They collected bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid samples from 29 EVALI patients across ten states. After laboratory testing, the centre found the presence of vitamin E acetate in all the samples.
This was an alarming discovery because this was the first time vitamin E acetate had been found directly in the lungs or close to inflamed portions of the lungs. The study also revealed a number of things about EVALI patients.
Most of them exhibited symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, cough, chills, chest pain, shortness of breath, and weight loss. Also, among all registered EVALI patients, 95% of them landed in a hospital. Most of the victims were male and were aged 35 years or less. The study also found that almost all the patients were using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products.
What is Vitamin E Acetate?
Vitamin E acetate is an oily substance that has been used often to thicken THC mixtures. Over the years, many illicit and back market traders have taken advantage of it. Vitamin E acetate is a synthesized form of vitamin E and is the popular name for a group of same chemicals referred to as tocopherols.
These tocopherols are obtained by a process known as fractionation. It is similar to distillation. In fractionalization, scientists extract oils from plant-based sources and then separate tocopherols. The challenge with this method is that there may be food allergens such as soy and nuts left behind. There is also the possibility of obtaining tocopherol without using plant-based sources such as vegetables and corn. This is done in three steps through petroleum-based chemicals.
Although vitamin E acetate has been used for a long time as dietary supplements and in the cosmetic industry, it is not designed to be inhaled. Because vitamin E acetate is sticky, it clamps to the lungs when inhaled and does not allow for the free flow of oxygen to and from the lungs. The lungs then get inflamed.
Lung Reaction to Inhaling an Oil. Is it New?
The adverse reaction of lungs to inhaling oils is not a new phenomenon. There are years of research documented in medical journals about inhaled oils leading to lipoid pneumonia. There are also several cases of children who have inhaled say, vaseline to their detriment and adults who have binged on moist tobacco.
The FDA has regulations on the kinds of foods that should be consumed and the foods to be avoided. However, there are insufficient and clear-cut guidelines on the type of substances that can be inhaled through vaping. Perhaps it’s because vaping is a relatively new field, and different types of vapes keep being invented. Currently, there are energy vapes, vitamin vapes, essential oil vapes, and even cannabis vapes. Also, the kind of material used in vaping as well as the heating system, is crucial for safety.
Scrutiny of ‘illegal’ unregulated vapes
The CDC studied 26 vapers who had consumed THC-infused substances. Most of them had bought their vape kits from untrusted sources. Some had purchased it from friends, family, and dubious online sources.
These vapes were of low quality and impure. Closed vapes that are already designed by manufacturers are usually safer than open vapes. With open vapes, users can adjust the level of substances in their vapes.
There are still some unanswered questions from the CDC’s investigation of EVALI outbreak. First of all, why are the samples used in the investigation so small? Secondly, is there any reason the outbreak has not badly hit big vaping markets such as Germany and the UK?
Admittedly, there may be some challenges with getting accurate data for research. Many people may be unwilling to report illegal drug use, particularly when illegal vaping juices are infused with chemicals that are banned.
Vaping might be a good alternative to smoking, and depending on what you inhale is not as addictive. However, there are issues. You need to be aware of what these are, avoid the danger, and focus on keeping your body healthy.
As the CDC continues its research, and the FDA finds a way to keep its eyes on the vaping industry; there is the need for individuals to be cautious when using vaping products. There must be an education on how to purchase safe vapes.
The outbreak of EVALI is not a death sentence to the vaping industry; instead, it is an opportunity to regulate the industry and educate people on right and wrong things to do. People should not use the soaring of vaping-related diseases as an opportunity to return to smoking. Nothing has changed about the devastating effects smoking has on a person’s body.
Interesting related article: “What is an e-Cigarette?“