CDC May Have Found Possible Cause Of Deadly Vaping Illness

By Desiree Bowie 11/11/19

Many believe that the product featuring the deadly thickening agent are only from counterfeit seller and wouldn't be found in a legal dispensary.

man vaping
ID 120380055 © Stefan Malloch |

It's been a few months since the Illinois Department of Public Health reported the first death from vaping-related causes and now the CDC is reporting that it may have found one of the potential causes of the mysterious illnesses and deaths: Vitamin E acetate.

In an update posted on Friday November 8th, the CDC reported:

Recent CDC laboratory testing of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid samples (or samples of fluid collected from the lungs) from 29 patients with EVALI submitted to CDC from 10 states found vitamin E acetate in all of the BAL fluid samples. Vitamin E acetate is used as an additive in the production of e-cigarette, or vaping, products. This is the first time that we have detected a potential chemical of concern in biologic samples from patients with these lung injuries.

As of November 5th, there have been 39 deaths and 2,051 reported cases of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI). Health officials believe it is possible that there are other causes and their focus is now on getting confirmation that it is causing the illnesses.

Leafly detailed the various uses of Vitamin E acetate, most of which are topical, and spoke to medical experts about its potential toxicity.

You Shouldn't Be Inhaling Vitamin E Acetate

“Just the lack of toxicity data for inhaled Vitamin E acetate should raise red flags,” said Dr. Sven-Eric Jordt of Duke University School of Medicine.

“No vitamin E should be vaped regardless of its chemical structure,” said Eliana Golberstein Rubashkyn, a pharmaceutical chemist.

Many believe that the product causing the illnesses are counterfeit and wouldn't be found in your local dispensary. Dumas de Rauly, chair of the ISO Committee on Vaping Standards and CEN Vaping Standards Committee who also runs a vaporizer company, minced no words when discussing the inhalation of Vitamin E acetate and where he thinks the tainted vapes are coming from.

“In no case is this a product that you should be inhaling,” de Rauly told Marijuana Business Daily. “When you add products like vitamin E … when you add different kinds of lipid solvents to the mix, you’re making all of that oil stickier, and that stickiness is going to create these lung illnesses we’re seeing."

Cracking Down On Black Market Product

de Rauly maintains that the vape oil made with Vitamin E acetate is from the black market.

“All of the patients are saying they bought it off the street. They didn’t buy it in legal, regulated environments,” Dumas de Rauly said.“This is just basic math. … We have substantial data that shows that these products and these vaping illnesses come from the black market."

Dispensary owners are warning customers about buying unregulated vape oils off the street.

"We inform all of our customers to steer clear from the black market completely and trust the licensed, reputable facilities that are springing up all over now," a dispensary manager told Fox17

Will there be a crackdown on the vaping black market? Michael Elias, the CEO of Marshall-based Michigan Pure Med, sure hopes so.

"There have been more than 2,000 vaping-related lung injuries and more than three dozen deaths because of harmful cutting-agents found in illicit vape products, and this is unacceptable, which is why we need stronger enforcement of the illicit cannabis market.”

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Desiree Bowie is a writer and movie lover from Los Angeles, California. Follow her on Twitter @dangerbowie