Mayo Clinic researchers who studied the lungs of Vaping Associated Pulmonary Illness (VAPI) patients found the tissue looked like the chemical burns seen in industrial workers exposed to toxic fumes, or World War I soldiers who inhaled mustard gas.
New England Journal of Medicine, New York Times
"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."
The Centers for Disease Control says more than 1,000 cases have been diagnosed and there have been 18 deaths.
With VAPI's exact cause still unknown -- the public health response continues to be muddled.
- The FDA called on the public to stop using THC vapes as well as all street-bought vapes.
- Oregon announced a six-month ban on sales of flavored vapes, including THC products, with the exact definition of "flavored" to be determined.
- Nationwide lawmakers have long sought a crackdown on flavored nicotine vapes for their appeal to children. However, it's not clear the flavored vape bans which have taken effect in several states help address VAPI.
- In Massachusetts, a four month ban on all THC and nicotine vapes is likely to survive a court challenge.
In Leafly, Bruce Barcott writes the flavored vape ban in Washington state will only make things worse.