SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Health says there are now 28 confirmed cases of severe lung disease in the state, among people who report vaping, either in nicotine or products containing THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana.
Health officials are investigating another 14 potential cases.
It’s a sharp increase since the health department first announced it was going to start updating numbers weekly just last week.
In mid-August, the Utah Department of Health said it could confirm about seven cases of vaping-related lung disease statewide. Last week, that number was at 21. This week, there are 28 confirmed cases, plus the 14 suspected ones. If all 14 of the potential cases are confirmed, the number of cases would have doubled in just one week.
The kinds of vaping cartridges and e-cigs used by people getting sick go all across the board. So, there isn’t one specific device or pod that all of these cases have in common.
Doctor Angela Dunn with the UDOH says, “We are seeing a lot of our cases have reported buying their THC cartridges on the street. So, they’re an unregulated product, for the most part.”
However, Dunn says other people have reported buying THC cartridges from outlets in other states, legally, then brought them across state lines. Samples of these products have been sent to labs across the country for testing.
“Actually, there are laboratories that have shown an increase in vitamin E in some of our samples, but that is such a small minority,” Dunn says.
Technicians are trying to see if there’s some sort of chemical in the actual cartridges leading to illness, or if the oils being inhaled are being absorbed by the lungs and causing health problems.
She says, “We have no evidence, yet, if there is a chemical toxin in the THC or nicotine [cartridges] that is resulting in this syndrome.”
Officials in multiple states have been warning about an increase in lung disease related to vaping in the last few weeks. Most recently, Wisconsin health officials urged people to stop vaping immediately over concerns about safety and health.
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