If you spend any time reading international news, you’ve no doubt heard about a strange lung illness relating to vaping that’s afflicted more than 2,000 people in the United States since the summer of 2019. The illness has caused fear around the world. Although the lung illness has so far appeared only in the United States, U.S. companies produce much of the world’s e-liquid supply. The fact that most U.S. news outlets have done a poor job of researching the illness also hasn’t helped to control the panic.
So, what is the U.S. vaping lung illness, and what is causing it? Does the illness have any chance of reaching Hungary? Are you safe to use vaping products from major companies like V2 Cigs UK? Those are the questions that we’ll answer in this article.
The vaping lung illness is a condition that’s similar to lipoid pneumonia. It’s caused when oil deposits settle deeply in the lungs, and the body has trouble removing the deposits through standard mechanisms like coughing. The oil prevents oxygen from transferring from the air to the bloodstream as it should, so the body starts to attack the oil as if it were an infectious disease.
Symptoms of the vaping lung illness include coughing, fever, chest pain, nausea and poor blood-oxygen levels. Some patients have been admitted to hospitals with such poor lung functioning that they had to receive mechanical breathing assistance.
The standard treatment procedure for the lung illness is to administer systemic steroids and supplemental oxygen and to place the patient on a ventilator if necessary. Most patients have improved with treatment, but 60 people have died from the lung illness at the time of writing. News reports have suggested that some of the patients who have recovered from the lung illness will continue to suffer from inadequate lung function.
When cases of the lung illness first began to appear during the summer of 2019, there was a great deal of confusion among the public because the only thing connecting all of the patients was the fact that they all vaped.
Most of the patients admitted that they had used cannabis-based vaping products containing THC.
Some patients, however, said that they used nicotine e-liquids and didn’t use THC vaping products. Others said that they had only used CBD vaping products. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid derived from industrial hemp, and it is legal in the United States.
THC, on the other hand, is derived from marijuana, which is illegal according to U.S. federal law. Some U.S. states allow medicinal or recreational marijuana use, but most do not. Therefore, most of the people who were using THC vaping products prior to the onset of illness were using illegal products developed for the black market. That’s an important fact, because it ultimately helped researchers find the most likely cause of the lung illness.
Patients who have developed the lung illness have sent samples of the vaping products they used to U.S. health authorities. So far, hundreds of samples have been submitted for analysis. From the information that’s available, it’s possible to draw three conclusions.
If you’re a vaper who uses nicotine e-liquid, you should have little reason to worry about the lung illness because no nicotine e-liquid should contain vitamin E or any other oil. E-liquid makers have known for years that it’s a bad idea to use oil-based flavors in vape juice, both because inhaling oil is unwise and because oil will hamper the functioning of a vaping device designed for e-liquid.
The vaping products that have been found to contain vitamin E acetate and are therefore items of great concern are liquid cannabis vaping products containing THC oil.
As mentioned above, the THC vaping products that have been submitted to authorities were primarily illegal products made for black market distribution.
Why is the use of Vitamin E so prevalent among illegal THC vaping products in the United States? It’s because raw THC oil is very expensive, and it’s also illegal for makers of illicit cannabis vaping products to produce or acquire. A pre-filled THC vaping cartridge is simply a vial of liquid. Buyers have no way of knowing exactly what those cartridges contain, so the producers of those cartridges often experiment with ways of diluting the THC content – thus decreasing the cost of producing the cartridges – without tipping customers off.
Producers of illegal THC cartridges settled on vitamin E as the perfect ingredient for diluting THC oil. Since it’s about the same color and thickness as hemp distillate, it’s impossible to identify a THC cartridge diluted with vitamin E through a visual examination alone. The use of vitamin E in THC vaping cartridges peaked in 2019. Cases of the lung illness began to appear shortly after.
Some of the THC cartridges submitted to health authorities have actually contained more vitamin E than THC oil.
For Hungarians, the good news about the U.S. vaping lung illness is that it isn’t likely to ever reach Hungary. Those who use nicotine e-liquid have little to fear because no e-liquid has ever been implicated as a cause of the illness – and even then, Hungary doesn’t allow cross-border sales of e-liquid, so it’s rare for e-liquid from the U.S. to reach Hungary anyway.
Hungary bans the sale and possession of cannabis products containing THC, so just like in most of the U.S., any THC vaping products that exist in Hungary are illegal.
The use of vitamin E to dilute THC oil, however, seems to be a uniquely American phenomenon that hasn’t appeared elsewhere. Nevertheless, if you do buy cannabis, it would be wise to avoid all liquid THC vaping products with ingredients that you can’t identify.