CDC Identifies ‘Sticky’ Chemical Tied to Deadly Vaping Illness in Patients’ Lungs

Authorities at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are finally zeroing in on one of the substances in vapes that could be making people sick.

“For the first time we have detected a potential toxin of concern: vitamin E acetate,” CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat said on a call with reporters Friday.


The CDC has taken a look at lung samples taken from 29 patients across 10 different US states and found vitamin E acetate in all of them.

“Vitamin E acetate is enormously sticky,” Jim Pirkle, from the CDC’s environmental health lab, said on the call.

“You can think of it to be just like honey. And so when it goes into the lung, it does hang around.”

Vitamin E acetate was previously identified as a concern in New York state, when high levels of the substance turned up in “nearly all cannabis-containing samples analysed” in September, according to a state health department release.

FDA commissioner Ned Sharpless also voiced his concerned about vitamin E acetate in a September tweet, saying it was “found in many of the samples containing THC.”

The CDC said that vitamin E acetate is often found in illicit street-bought vapes. It’s used to dilute liquid in vapes, especially to water down THC. Investigators still aren’t positive that vitamin E is causing harm, but there’s definitely a link between more vitamin E vapes and more injuries.


“Vitamin E acetate usually does not cause harm when swallowed as a vitamin supplement or applied topically to the skin,” Schuchat said. “However, previous non-CDC research suggests that when vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it may interfere with normal lung function.”

Federal health investigators aren’t ready to say that…

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