Lung damage from vaping resembles chemical burns
Lung damage in some people who have become ill after vaping nicotine or cannabis products resembles a chemical burn, doctors from the US's prestigious Mayo Clinic have found.
Their findings are ased on samples of lung tissue from 17 patients around the US whose biopsy specimens were sent to Mayo to be examined under the microscope by experts in lung pathology. Two samples came from patients who died.
More than 800 cases of lung illness in 46 US states have been linked to vaping, and 16 people have died. The majority have vaped THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, but some say they have vaped only nicotine, reports the NEW YORK TIMES.
"All 17 of our cases show a pattern of injury in the lung that looks like a toxic chemical exposure, a toxic chemical fume exposure, or a chemical burn injury," said Dr Brandon T. Larsen, a surgical pathologist at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. "To be honest, they look like the kind of change you would expect to see in an unfortunate worker in an industrial accident where a big barrel of toxic chemicals spills, and that person is exposed to toxic fumes and there is a chemical burn in the airways."
The injuries also look like those seen in people exposed to poisons like mustard gas, a chemical weapon used in World War I, he said.
The findings were published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine and involved samples from 13 men and four women whose ages ranged from 19 to 67. About 70 per cent had a history of vaping cannabis or THC oils. Eleven were in Arizona, five in Minnesota and one in Florida.
Medical investigators have been unable to identify exactly what is causing the lung damage, or even how many harmful substances are involved. They do not know whether the source is the liquids being vaped, or a toxin released from the materials used to make vaping devices. It is also unclear whether some devices used in vaping may be defective.
Initial concerns have focused on the possibility that the lungs were clogged by oils being vaped, like THC oil itself, or other oils like vitamin E acetate that are sometimes used to dilute or "cut" THC for sale.