MDH: Compound that acts as a thickener in illicit vaping products tied to illness outbreak

MDH: Compound that acts as a thickener in illicit vaping products tied to illness outbreak Photo: MGN Images

Updated: November 26, 2019 12:46 PM

Health officials say they have more evidence that a certain chemical compound is a culprit in a national outbreak of vaping illnesses.

The Minnesota Department of Health issued a report Tuesday, having analyzed vaping cartridges gathered in Minnesota during the outbreak this year and cartridges seized last year. The newer cartridges contained the compound vitamin E acetate, but none of the older ones did.


Vitamin E acetate has been used as a thickener in illicit vaping products that contain THC, the high-inducing part of marijuana.

The study was small and included just a few dozen products. But the finding echoes another study that found the compound in the damaged lungs of 29 patients across the country.

"These are small samples, and the findings do not rule out other possible compounds or ingredients that may be involved in causing these lung injuries," MDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said in a statement. "However, these results are important and support a role for vitamin E acetate in the lung injuries associated with vaping THC."

As of Nov. 26, 2019, MDH had received reports of 125 patients in Minnesota with confirmed or probable lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use or vaping. Of those patients with complete interview information, 91 percent reported vaping illicit THC.
Nearly 2,300 Americans who vape have gotten sick since March, many of them teens and young adults.

More from

Vaping illnesses in US still rising, though at slower pace

MDH: 2 more Minnesotans die due to vaping complications

Walz administration considers ways to combat youth vaping as illnesses rise

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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