Researchers say vaping-related illnesses may be linked to chemical burns

NOW: Researchers say vaping-related illnesses may be linked to chemical burns

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. – Researchers at the Mayo Clinic looked at the lung biopsies of 17 patients and determined the illnesses seem to be associated with direct chemical injury.

With over 800 vaping-related cases and 20 deaths in 10 states including Indiana, agencies all over are trying to figure out why it’s happening.

“There is not one thing that links every case. That’s what the CDC and Mayo and the researching organizations are trying to find out,” Betsy McCue, a representative for St. Joseph County Health Department, said.

“They’re scrambling to try and figure out so they can protect people,” Sandi Pontius, a representative for Smoke Free St. Joe Coalition, said.

That’s why some states are even banning flavors.

The mayo clinic released a new development in the investigation. Researchers looked at the lung biopsies of 17 patients, all of which vaped and 71% had vaped with marijuana or cannabis oils.

“Chemicals when heated that are causing fumes in the aerosol that people are inhaling is going directly to their lungs and damaging their tissues,” McCue said.

She said people don’t always know if a vape device has been tampered with.

“If cartridges have been tampered with or messed with. It’s possible there could be chemicals or things in these cartridges that are causing damage to people’s lungs,” McCue said.

“E-cigs are not regulated at all. So, they can put anything in there, and we don’t know. They don’t have to tell us. So, it can be any kind of chemical,” Pontius

McCue said several of the cases involve cartridges with THC products, but there could be several types of chemicals in one cartridge.

Finding the chemical causing the illness is the hard part.

“They’ve just been able to rule out mineral oils,” McCue said.

McCue said the long-term effects of exposing your lungs to the chemicals in vapes are not as well understood because there just isn’t that many years of research.

This study just shows us that mineral oils in the cartridges can be ruled out as a cause and both say this development is a step in the right direction.

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