CDC Names Complicit Brands in Vape Crisis; Studies Raise Safety Concerns

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday released data from an ongoing investigation into the nationwide epidemic of vaping-related illnesses that surfaced in September. In its weekly EVALI update, the agency named several illicit THC vape brands that have been implicated in the crisis.

“While Dank Vapes was most commonly reported in the Northeast and South,” the CDC report said, “TKO and Smart Cart brands were more commonly reported by patients in the West, and Rove was more common in the Midwest.

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“The data further supports that EVALI is associated with THC-containing products and that it is not likely associated with a single THC-containing product brand,” CDC added.

The report mentioned vitamin E acetate, which was singled out previously as having a connection to EVALI; lung fluid samples from twenty-nine EVALI patients contained the substance, used to add viscosity and volume to cannabis cartridge contents and e-fluids.

As of December 3, fatalities attributed to EVALI seem to have leveled somewhat at forty-eight, in twenty-five U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The number of cases was adjusted to remove non-hospitalized EVALI cases, leaving hospitalized cases at nearly 2,300.

Negative news about vaping also emerged with a new case study published in peer review European Respiratory Journal.  The report described “a patient who developed pathologically documented giant cell interstitial pneumonia following regular use of an e-cigarette. This disorder has been termed hard metal pneumoconiosis, or cobalt lung, due to its close association with exposure to hard metal (cemented tungsten carbide with cobalt).”

When researchers analyzed the fluid contained in the patient’s vape “device” or e-cigarette, they found a high level of cobalt, a toxic heavy metal. The patient’s condition is consistent with inhaled cobalt exposure from vaping over a period of time, the study said further. Media reports added that cobalt lung is a condition typically seen in steelworkers.

The patient was reported to be female, forty-nine years old, previously healthy, and a resident of California.

Vaping bans continue to expand, though no action has been taken at the federal level in the U.S.—or Canada, where concerns over vaping are growing though Canada and other countries do not seem to have sustained anywhere near the number of vape-related lung injuries as have been diagnosed in the U.S.

In early December, officials in Nova Scotia, Canada, agreed to implement a ban on flavored vape products, which will go into effect on April 1, 2020. Though Nova Scotia is the first province to place a ban on vape products, a spate of vaping bans have been implemented by municipalities, varying from region to region—much like U.S. officials have done in cities and states, while the CDC continues its investigation.

“This hodgepodge of rules and limits across Canada will lead to massive confusion, a lack of enforcement, and, most importantly, a lack of protection for millions of our kids,” wrote Jim Warren in the Toronto Sun.

Finally, in more bad news for vaping: Dentistry peer publication DentistryIQ.com last week posted a research study on vaping effects in periodontal disease. Titled Electronic nicotine delivery systems: Vaping away gum tissue, researchers said, “Evidence-based research has shown the use of electronic nicotine devices leads to changes in cellular activity, which manifests as a strong risk factor for periodontal disease and fibrosis of the oral submucosa.”


Ed. Note: This is a developing news story, more information will be added as it becomes available. See mg‘s previous coverage for earlier details about the epidemic.