Vaping and Lung Disease
Recently CDC has started investigating 450 possible cases across multiple states of a lung disease associated with vaping. As of September 5, six confirmed cases have been reported in Virginia. Information on this illness in Virginia can be found on the Virginia Department of Health page on Severe Lung Illness Associated with Vaping. No specific product has been identified as the cause yet, although many people affected report vaping THC oil.
THC Oil and Vaping
THC is a chemical in marijuana that is the primary cause of the “high” people get after smoking or ingesting marijuana. It can be extracted from the marijuana plant and formulated for vaping. THC is currently illegal to possess in the state of Virginia. Because THC is illegal, there are no regulations to ensure it is extracted and formulated for vaping in a safe manner. Controlled substances are often not prepared safely, as demonstrated in the 2018 outbreak of cases of severe bleeding caused by synthetic cannabinoids contaminated with rat poison.
Did THC oil cause these illnesses?
We don’t have enough information yet to say if vaping THC oil was the cause of these illnesses. The people who have become ill used a variety of commercial products, and only some of them report vaping THC. There are many different vaping oils with many different flavorings, and it is possible that some other ingredient in commercially sold products caused this lung disease.
What should I do?
We recommend that people who do not currently use tobacco products should not start vaping, and that people should not vape controlled substances due to the risk to health. The CDC recommends that people who are currently using e-cigarettes should consider stopping while the investigation is ongoing. If you are using e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation device, talk to your doctor about alternatives. If you do vape and develop respiratory problems, talk to your doctor and tell them that you vape and what products you have used. If you suspect your breathing problems are due to e-cigarette use, report this to FDA at their Safety Reporting Portal for Tobacco Products. You can read more about the health effects of vaping at the CDC’s page on e-cigarettes.