Vaping: Local doctor says better to be safe than sorry


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The CDC is working closely with the FDA, states, public health partners and clinicians on the investigation into vaping-related illnesses.

Research is ongoing into the outbreaks being seen in all but one state in the U.S., but so far only one potential chemical of concern has been identified.

Just days ago the CDC released new information about a potential chemical of concern in samples from patients with lung injuries related to vaping.

Experts say Vitamin E acetate is used as an additive in the production of e-cigarette, or vaping products.

The latest update from the CDC finds 2,051 cases of e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injuries have been reported. Dr. Paul Berger III says it’s even happening right here in our own community.

“We have had some patients that were admitted for what we believe to have been post vaping related lung injuries and we have also seen patients in our pulmonary clinic with secondary sequelae like, asthma like symptoms from e-cigarette, vaping related issues,” Berger said.

He says the majority of diseases appear to originate with THC oils, but adds that there’s at least 15 percent of cases who have experienced e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury with nicotine.

“What we’re finding is there’s a potential compendium of inflammatory or disease processes that can occur when you’re vaping THC, CBD or cannabinoid oils, or even nicotine liquid dispensed vials,” Berger said.

Recent CDC lab testing of fluid samples collected from the lungs of 29 patients with e-cig or vaping related illness contained Vitamin E acetate, an additive in the production of e-cig or vaping products. Experts say this is the first potential chemical of concern that has been detected from patients with these lung injuries.

“Oftentimes there’s, I hate to say it, but a degree of invincibility that comes with youth. And so it is an ongoing discussion that has to occur with the patients, as a physician, as a patient, as another person to another person,” Berger said.

He says education is a key part of putting a stop to the epidemic. Because even those who pick up the habit for only a short time could be at risk of getting sick.

“Oftentimes the e-cigarette, vaping related lung injuries will develop within 90 days of use and could be as short as within days to a week of use,” Berger said.

While much of the research being conducted by the CDC and FDA is ongoing, Berger says one thing is for sure: it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“Avoid using the vaping entities and avoid using the e-cigarettes as much as possible,” Berger said.

Right now, the CDC is recommending that people should not use e-cig or vaping products that contain THC, particularly from informal sources like online dealers.

The CDC will continue to provide updates as more research is conducted.

To read more about the latest findings, click here.

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