Dozens Of Mysterious Vaping-Related Illnesses Under CDC Investigation

By Lindsey Weedston 08/23/19

The CDC has identified 94 cases of pulmonary illnesses associated with vaping over the past couple of months.

Woman vaping
ID 94153718 © Aleksei Todosko |

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently investigating an outbreak of "severe lung illness associated with vaping," according to an agency statement.

They have reportedly identified “94 possible cases of severe lung illness associated with vaping” across 14 states from June 28 to August 15 of this year.

“CDC is providing consultation to the departments of health in Wisconsin, Illinois, California, Indiana, and Minnesota about a cluster of pulmonary illnesses linked to e-cigarette product use, or ‘vaping,’ primarily among adolescents and young adults,” the statement reads. “Additional states have alerted CDC to possible (not confirmed) cases and investigations into these cases are ongoing.”

Although the CDC has not yet concluded that vaping was the cause of each or any of the 94 cases identified, they have not found evidence that the illnesses were caused by an infectious disease.

Spike In Severe Lung Illnesses

According to Live Science, all of the patients have reported vaping either nicotine or cannabis products, and the most likely explanation for the sudden spike in severe lung illnesses would therefore be a toxic chemical found in e-cigarette devices. Boston University School of Public Health Professor Dr. Michael Siegel believes that this chemical is likely a “contaminant that is present in certain formulations of cannabis products" that may have been sold outside of legal means.

It may be difficult to determine exactly what is causing these illnesses due to the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not actively regulate vaping devices. Multiple recent studies have found evidence that e-cigarette vapor contains a number of chemicals harmful to the lungs and possibly other parts of the body as the agents enter the bloodstream.

A report released by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine in 2018 that reviewed over 800 studies on the subject “concluded that e-cigarettes both contain and emit a number of potentially toxic substances,” according to the American Lung Association

In spite of increasing warnings from scientific organizations and government agencies, e-cigarette use continues to rise, particularly among young people. A report released in late 2018 found that the rate of vaping among high school students jumped by 78% in a single year.

This led American Cancer Society vice president for Tobacco Control, Cliff Douglas, to urge the FDA to “act as aggressively and expeditiously as possible to stem this dangerous turn of events.”

The CDC investigation is ongoing and the public will be updated with new information as it becomes available.

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Lindsey Weedston is a Seattle area writer focused on mental health and addiction, politics, human rights, and various social issues. Her work has appeared in The Establishment, Ravishly, ThinkProgress, Little Things, Yes! Magazine, and others. You can find her daily writings at Twitter: