What Is Causing Lung Injuries for e-Cigarette Users?
The health risks associated with smoking cigarettes are well-known, but many people have switched to using e-cigarettes recently since it has been promoted as a safer option. However, recent events are making us question just how safe “vaping” actually is. We may soon realize that vaping is also hazardous to one’s health.
The rising popularity of vaping has been dramatic, especially among teenagers. According to a recent study, an estimated 2.1 million middle school and high school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2017; with an astonishing 3.6 million reporting use in 2018. While all states have age restrictions for selling these products, the laws are obviously not preventing use among teens and young adults. According to a 2017 survey by the CDC, nearly seven million adults 18 or older use e-cigarettes.
Recent reports link vaping to lung disease
You may have seen news reports of lung problems, including deaths, linked to vaping. As of September 2019, more than 800 cases of lung injury linked to e-cigarettes have been reported, as well as 12 deaths. Due to this outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended against using any vaping or e-cigarette products.
According to the CDC:
- Nearly 200 e-cigarette users have developed severe lung disease in 22 states (and the numbers keep rising — a Washington Post story put the number at 354). Most cases were among teens and young adults.
- Experts are not sure if vaping actually caused these lung problems, but believe the most likely culprit is a contaminant, not an infectious agent. Possibilities include chemical irritation, or allergic or immune reactions to various chemicals or other substances in the inhaled vapors.
- Typically, symptoms have started gradually, with shortness of breath and/or chest pain before more severe breathing difficulty led to hospital admission.
- The lung disease has not been linked to a specific brand or flavor of e-cigarette.
- The FDA, CDC, and state health officials are investigating these cases to determine the specific cause(s) and how to prevent and treat them.
Potential Causes of Vaping-Related Lung Disease
So far, no exact cause of these lung injuries has been identified, and there is no single product or substance involved in every case. However, the injuries have occurred for users of both nicotine products and substances derived from marijuana, including CBD and THC.
The problem seems to be that e-cigarettes use a battery-powered device that heats a liquid to form vapors (or, more accurately, aerosol) that the user can inhale. These devices heat up various flavorings, nicotine, marijuana or some black market substances that are potentially harmful.
It has also been suggested that even if the chemicals used in e-cigarettes are not inherently dangerous, inhalation of these chemicals in the form of vapor can be harmful. Vapor inhalation can cause inflammation of the lungs, resulting in the production of mucus and high levels of enzymes, which may lead to irreversible damage to lung tissue.
Some studies have identified multiple substances in e-cigarettes that may play a role in cases involving lung disease, including:
- Flavoring chemicals – E-cigarette liquids often come in flavored varieties. The chemicals used to provide flavoring, such as benzaldehyde or vanillin, can be toxic when they are vaporized and inhaled.
- Vitamin E acetate – This chemical has been present in many of the reported cases. While it is used safely in other products, such as nutritional supplements, it has oil-like properties that could cause damage to the lungs when inhaled.
- Nicotine – Vape products often have high levels of nicotine, which is a highly addictive carcinogen. Even some “nicotine-free” e-cigarettes have been found to contain nicotine.
- Nicotine is and can affect the developing brain, potentially harming teens and young adults.
- Microscopic particles – The heating elements used in e-cigarettes may release metallic particles, which may become lodged in the lungs or absorbed into the bloodstream. This can cause damage to the lungs or heart.
- Some substances found in e-cigarette vapor have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.
- Teens who vape are more likely to begin smoking cigarettes.
- Explosions and burns have been reported with e-cigarettes while recharging the devices, due to defective batteries.
- Accidental exposure to liquid from e-cigarettes has caused acute nicotine poisoning in children and adults.
- Vaping during pregnancy could harm a developing fetus.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Perhaps vaping should be viewed as a “lesser of evils” for current cigarette smokers. Still, just how vaping affects our overall health is uncertain. One way we will learn more is by people reporting possible vaping-related health problems to the FDA.
Until we know more, think twice about vaping. Federal and state authorities recommend avoiding all vaping until more is known. If you do decide to vape, avoid e-cigarettes bought “off the street” and stick with brand name e-cigarette products without modification (such as adding marijuana or other drugs).
These cases of severe lung disease among people who vape raise important questions about the safety of vaping. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that lung problems might develop in people who vape: our lungs were meant to inhale clean air and nothing else. It took many years to recognize the damage cigarettes can cause. We could be on a similar path with vaping.
If you have been injured while using a vaping device or e-cigarette, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. A personal injury lawyer at Duque Law Group will review the circumstances and facts in your case, researches current laws and analyzes your case to provide you with an explanation of the law and your chances of recovery if you file a product liability claim.
Call us now at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your legal options. A free consultation is just a phone call away.