The New York Department of Health is looking at Vitamin E acetate as being connected to the nearly three dozen reports of vaping-related pulmonary illnesses reported in the state. According to the health officials high levels of vitamin E acetate were found in nearly all cannabis-containing samples analyzed as part of the agency’s investigation. At least one vitamin E acetate-containing vape product has been linked to each patient who submitted products for testing.
The agency has received 34 reports of individuals between ages 15 and 34 who developed pulmonary illnesses after using at least one unregulated cannabis-containing vape product. More than a dozen cases came from the western region of the state, while nine came from the metropolitan region outside of New York City. The rest of the cases were in New York City (7), the Albany area (4), and Central New York (1), according to DOH.
Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said in a statement, “The cases of pulmonary illnesses associated with vaping are continuing to rise across New York State and the country. We urge the public to be vigilant about any vaping products that they or any family members may be using and to immediately contact their health care provider if they develop any unusual symptoms. In general, vaping of unknown substances is dangerous, and we continue to explore all options to combat this public health issue.”
Vitamin E acetate, a commonly available supplement, is usually safe as a dietary supplement or cream. However, it is not known whether vaping it could be dangerous. It is not an approved additive for vape products authorized under New York state’s medical marijuana program. The cartridges the DOH tested reportedly appeared to be “black-market” products purchased off the street, not from medical dispensaries.
While contaminants and counterfeit vaping products have been of interest to health officials investigating these illnesses, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it isn’t convinced that vitamin E is to blame. An FDA spokesperson said in a statement that “more information is needed to better understand whether there’s a relationship between any specific products or substances and the reported illnesses,” and that the agency is “committed to taking appropriate actions as the facts emerge.”