Ohio State researchers help track down suspected cause of vaping illness


Researchers at Ohio State helped to identify Vitamin E acetate from tainted black market THC vaping cartridges as a likely culprit

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Vapor industry experts have been telling the Centers for Disease Control from the beginning what they think has been causing vaping-related illnesses.

Now, with some help from researchers at Ohio State University, it’s looking more likely they may have been right all along.

When reports of a mysterious lung disease that was killing people who vaped started emerging, people in the industry say they figured it out pretty quickly.

“Really, we were kind of ignored, until finally in November the CDC finally had released findings that, you know, the majority of these cases, if not all, had been related to this Vitamin E acetate oil,”​ said James Jarvis, with the Ohio Vapor Trade Association.

Working with the CDC and FDA, researchers at Ohio State helped to identify Vitamin E acetate from tainted black market THC vaping cartridges as the likely culprit, not typical vaping products.

“We’re just thankful that they were there to really take this project on and really put the truth out there that what is causing these illnesses and what could happen if there’s a flavor ban to the adult vapors,”​ said Jarvis.

The outbreak and steep increase in teen use of vaping products provided a reason for some in positions of power, like Governor Mike DeWine, to call for a ban of flavored vaping products across the board, something researchers say is a knee-jerk reaction.

“There’s no new smoking gun when it comes to evidence about teens and about the dangers of vaping. We’ve had two relatively unrelated phenomenon intersect, but sometimes what stands to reason; to ban devices, to ban flavors, doesn’t stand up to the evidence,”​ said Amy Fairchild, with Ohio State’s College of Public Health.

Fairchild it’s important to keep things in perspective.

“This isn’t just a product that’s on the market; it’s there as an alternative to one of the most deadly products that we as human beings have ever created,”​ said Fairchild.

Small businesses may have gotten a win Thursday, but they’re not out of the woods yet. A deadline coming up in May with the FDA could devastate the entire industry.

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