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  • This is an x-ray of the lungs of one of the teenagers hospitalized after vaping THC.

  • All of this white cloudiness means there's a lot of inflammation in his lungs, and that's making it hard for him to breathe.

  • So, what's making his lungs go from this to this?

  • This patient is one in an exploding pattern of vaping-related lung illnesses.

  • The exact cause of the illnesses is still unknown.

  • We asked Dr. Melodi Pirzada at NYU Winthrop Hospital about treating patients affected by this growing outbreak, including the patient with the inflamed lungs.

  • This is a 18-year old.

  • At first, she didn't connect his condition to vaping.

  • Given the fact that this is so new, how were you able to figure it out?

  • We were lucky to have the mom find the cartridge and bring it to us, and that's how we correlated vaping to his condition.

  • Many patients have reported vaping THC oils, which come packaged in cartridges like these.

  • These were given to Dr. Pirzada by her patient's family.

  • Do you know where the patients are getting the cartridges to begin with?

  • They all say that their friend gave me, or, "I was at a party and I just got my hands on it."

  • We don't know where they are getting.

  • This cartridge tested positive for vitamin E acetate, a cutting agent some health officials suspect is behind many of the vaping-related lung illnesses.

  • TKO Products, a legal manufacturer of THC vapes in California, has learned that counterfeits like this one exist all over the country.

  • According to TKO, even the counterfeits are being knocked off on Chinese sites and sold in the US.

  • Someone buying a TKO fake won't know if it was made by the same people as the last one they bought.

  • Our reporting shows that even in states where cannabis is fully legal, the black market is proving more resilient than expected.

  • Dr. Brian Strasnick's lab tests thousands of cannabis-containing products, including vaping oils, for substances like pesticides and bacteria before these can be sold legally in Massachusetts.

  • Right now, there's a lot of interest in testing because of the current string of illnesses that have been related to vaping.

  • Can you talk a little bit about your tests in that context?

  • There's no mandate for testing once the material is already in the cartridges, so we don't know what's in the cartridges, and I don't think anybody really does.

  • Health officials are warning consumers against buying products off the street.

  • But according to our reporting, there's also a booming market for fakes online, on Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, and even LinkedIn.

  • Why would people wanna cut a THC oil with vitamin E acetate?

  • I think one of the reasons is that the consumers are under this impression that the thicker it is, the more concentrated and the more potent, which is scientifically invalid.

  • Vitamin E acetate or propylene glycol is a thick, very viscous-type substance.

  • The consumer looks at it and says, "It's thick, there's a bubble there; it's gotta be more potent."

  • That's not the case.

  • Propylene glycol and vitamin E acetate are common ingredients in products like cosmetics, processed foods, lotions, and dietary supplements.

  • But when inhaled, these substances may interfere with the way our lungs work, even resulting in death.

  • If they are going to continue vaping, they should really stop THC vaping ASAP.

  • I think it's irrational to think that people are gonna stop vaping.

  • My suggestion to people would be if you can stop, do stop.

  • If you haven't started, don't start.

  • In the wake of the reported deaths, large retailers like Walmart have announced that they will stop selling all E-cigarettes, and policymakers like Governor Charlie Baker in Massachusetts have similarly responded by ordering a temporary ban on all vaping products in the most sweeping prohibition on E-cigarettes in the US.

  • I have a 20-year-old daughter.

  • She said, "Of course, Mom, everybody is vaping."

  • When I said, "Why do you think that is?"

  • Her answer was, "Because teenagers think they are invincible it's not going to happen to them.

  • It just happened to another another person, but not to them."

This is an x-ray of the lungs of one of the teenagers hospitalized after vaping THC.

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