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  • The federal government today warned Americans not to use e-cigarettes,

  • following several mysterious deaths linked to vaping.

  • The Centers for Disease Control also said there are 450 cases of a lung illness in more

  • than 30 states tied to vaping.

  • There are more questions now than answers.

  • And William Brangham is back now with more on this mystery.

  • That's right, Judy.

  • Health officials say they're still searching for the definitive cause behind these growing

  • number of lung illnesses.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and others say they do believe some chemical exposure

  • is associated with the sickness.

  • At least four deaths have been linked to vaping, and a fifth is under investigation.

  • Allison Aubrey of National Public Radio is covering this, and she joins me now.

  • Hi there.

  • Welcome.

  • Hi.

  • Thank you.

  • So what is the latest that the investigators are saying?

  • Sure.

  • Well, today, they basically came out and said, we still do not know what is causing these

  • illnesses.

  • It's very frustrating for them, but they do know a lot more about who has gotten sick.

  • So, let me paint a picture here.

  • We are talking young men, average age 19, more than 80 percent of the cases in Illinois

  • and Wisconsin men.

  • So these are people who are vaping THC and nicotine, sometimes combinations.

  • So, a marijuana vape pen and a nicotine vape pen?

  • Well, putting THC into the vape, right, so vaping THC or other cannabinoids,

  • CBD, sometimes vaping nicotine and cannabis, so all kinds of mix and match.

  • It's very, very difficult to hone in on one thing.

  • And so far, they say they don't see one substance that is linked to all of the illnesses.

  • So, I'm curious, because New York state officials seemed to indicate

  • that some Vitamin E substance might be implicated.

  • Right.

  • Federal investigators are not echoing that?

  • Well, they're looking into that as well.

  • They're looking at a whole range of compounds.

  • In New York, they say it is a focus.

  • They found a lot of concentrated Vitamin E in THC vaping cartridges.

  • And, basically, they're saying, these are not cartridges coming from medical dispensaries

  • in New York.

  • These are black market products, stuff that people are buying off the street.

  • Who knows what's in them, but very high concentrations of Vitamin E. And some people may think, whoa,

  • Vitamin E, it's a vitamin.

  • Well, it's fine to take as a dietary supplement or as a lotion.

  • Not fine to inhale.

  • Ingested at high levels, when it makes it right into the lung, can cause damage.

  • So possibly five suspected deaths here, but lots of -- lots of -- hundreds

  • of illnesses.

  • How do these illnesses present?

  • And what do they look like?

  • Sure.

  • Typically, what they're seeing is that people feel a little bit sick, and then progressively

  • have shortness of breath, chest pain.

  • By day six or seven, they have presented to an emergency room.

  • And from there, it can get worse.

  • Oftentimes, they're being intubated, or they need help breathing.

  • Some have ended up in the ICU.

  • And they don't know what kind of long-term damage might be done to the lungs.

  • They just don't know.

  • You touched on this before, that there are commercial vaping products,

  • like Juul and Blu, that are e-cigarettes you can buy.

  • Right.

  • And then in states where marijuana is legal, you can buy THC vaping

  • pens.

  • Sure.

  • But then, as you're saying, there's also this big black market of these

  • sort of home brew kits.

  • Do regulators know whether it's the black market products or the commercial products?

  • Or they don't know?

  • They really don't know.

  • They really -- they're looking at a range of things here.

  • The people who've spoken up -- and keep in mind, these are 19-year-old young men that

  • they're asking, hey, you have just gotten really, really sick.

  • What were you putting in your vape cartridge?

  • It's hard to get all of the answers.

  • In about 120 instances, these people who've been sick have actually handed over what's

  • left of the vaping cartridge.

  • And that's how investigators are analyzing this.

  • And they're finding that people have used 12 or 13 different kinds of THC products,

  • 12 or 13 different kinds of nicotine products.

  • So it's really, really complex and difficult to figure out, is there one substance or combination

  • of substances that's leading to all these illnesses?

  • So the CDC says now, until we get to the bottom of this, just don't smoke

  • e-cigarettes.

  • You know what?

  • They are recommending that people stay away from e-cigarettes.

  • They're saying, if you have been using them to stay off cigarettes, turn to something

  • else.

  • Until they know what's going on, until this investigation points to a substance or a product,

  • they're recommending that people not vape.

  • Allison Aubrey of NPR, thank you so much.

  • Thank you.

The federal government today warned Americans not to use e-cigarettes,

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B1 US vaping thc vitamin nicotine substance black market

Deaths linked to vaping reveal a complex array of inhaled substances

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    Amy.Lin posted on 2019/09/17
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