Mayo Clinic Pathologists Say Vaping-Related Lung Damage In Patients They’ve Studied Resembles Chemical Burns
New research by Mayo Clinic pathologists contradicts a previous hypothesis that a rare form of pneumonia is the cause of the ongoing vaping crisis, and says the vaping-related lung injuries they’ve seen in patients resemble chemical burns.
According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), acute lipid pneumonia, which causes fat or oil particles to build-up and inflame the lining of the lungs, was posed as a possible explanation for how vaping has been damaging people’s lungs.
This week, however, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Brandon Larsen, a surgical pathologist from the Mayo Clinic, and his colleagues says lipid pneumonia is not the root cause of these vaping-related illnesses.
“While we can’t discount the potential role of lipids, we have not seen anything to suggest this is a problem caused by lipid accumulation in the lungs,” said Larsen. “Instead, it seems to be some kind of direct chemical injury, similar to what one might see with exposures to toxic chemical fumes, poisonous gases and toxic agents.”
This would jibe with a recent laboratory test commissioned by NBC News that revealed that the unregulated THC cartridges they analyzed contained contained myclobutanil, a fungicide that can transform into hydrogen cyanide when burned.
Of the 17 patients they studied, none of them had any trace of lipid accumulation, unlike the five patients that were admitted to hospitals in North Carolina between July and August 2019.
“We were not surprised by what we found, regarding toxicity,” said Larsen, adding. “Based on what we have seen in our study, we suspect that most cases involve chemical contaminants, toxic byproducts or other noxious agents within vape liquids.”
Another recent report by health officials at the Centers For Disease Control stated that 77 percent of the 805 Americans who have presented with vaping-related illnesses since last summer used THC-containing products – a majority of them being unregulated black market THC cartridges.
The death toll due to vaping-related illnesses in the United States has now reportedly risen to 17 and the CDC is still recommending Americans cease their use of all vaping products, “particularly those containing THC,” until the specific cause of these lung illnesses can be pinpointed.