The CDC, FDA, and state and local health departments and government agencies are investigating a countrywide outbreak vaping related illnesses and deaths. The FDA and the California State government are conducting a criminal probe specifically into e-cigarette company Juul Labs.
What about THC?
The CDC does not know the specific cause of the lung illness and still has not identified a specific e-cigarette product or substance linked to every case.
Unfortunately, the FDA is struggling to regulate the rapidly growing billion-dollar vaping industry with a booming black market, experts say. Americans have access to an incalculable assortment of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and nicotine e-cigarettes without knowing what’s actually in them.
According to the CDC, most of the patients reported a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC. Many used e-cigarette products containing THC and nicotine.
Black Market Cartridges
In an independent study commissioned by NBC News, “black market” vaping products proved more dangerous than previously thought. No heavy metals, pesticides or residual solvents like Vitamin E were found in any THC e-cigarette cartridges purchased from legal dispensaries in California. However, 13 out of the other 15 THC cartridges purchased from the black market contained Vitamin E, and 10 cartridges test positive for pesticides. All of the black market cartridges contained myclobutanil, a fungicide that turns into hydrogen cyanide when it’s burned.
Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said that the FDA is not interested in pursuing personal use of any vaping products, but is focusing interest on the suppliers. Speaking to a congressional committee, Sharpless said that investigators are working to “follow the supply chain to the source.” Sharpless stressed that if the FDA finds someone is “manufacturing or distributing illicit, adulterated vaping products that caused illness and death for personal profit, we would consider that to be a criminal act.”
The Health Concerns
The CDC has confirmed 805 cases and 21 deaths linked to a mysterious lung illness reported from 46 states and 1 U.S. territory. The number of confirmed cases rose by 52% in just one week. All of the patients with vaping related illnesses have a history of e-cigarette product use, and nearly three-quarters of the reported cases are male. About 38% of the cases were linked to people 21 years or younger, the CDC said.
Health authorities urge people to stop using e-cigarettes devices while it investigates the growing number vaping related illnesses and deaths.