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Vaping Kills a 15-Year-Old in Texas

Vaping Kills a 15-Year-Old in Texas

Cases of lung illness and deaths from vaping have tapered off since peaking in September, health officials said on Thursday, but the outbreak also reached a grim new milestone: The youngest death, of a 15-year-old, was reported by Dallas County Health and Human Services.

The teenager had “a chronic underlying medical condition,” Texas officials said in

Most patients had vaped THC, the high-inducing chemical in marijuana. The C.D.C. said the cause of their lung damage was very likely to be vitamin E acetate, an oily substance added to stretch the supply of THC. Laboratories have found the vitamin in illegal THC products and in fluid samples from patients’ lungs.

How vitamin E acetate could injure the lungs is not known. Researchers have suggested that it might disrupt a natural substance in the lungs called surfactant, which helps keep air sacs open and is essential for breathing. Another possibility is that the vitamin oil, when heated in a vaping device, may break down into a powerful toxin that leaves the lungs with damage similar to the chemical burns seen in war victims attacked with poison gas.

Though much of the evidence points to THC, health officials say that does not mean nicotine vaping can be considered safe.

“While it appears that vitamin E acetate is associated with Evali, there are many different substances and product sources that are being investigated, and there may be more than one cause,” the C.D.C. says on its website. “Therefore, the best way for people to ensure that they are not at risk while the investigation continues is to consider refraining from the use of all e-cigarette, or vaping, products.”

It adds: “There is no safe tobacco product. All tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, carry a risk.”

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