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FOX43 Reveals: Inside the possible cause of mysterious vaping-related illnesses

CENTRAL Pa.—Nearly 50 people have died from vaping-related illnesses and the number of cases continues to rise. For the first time, the Centers for Disease Cont...

CENTRAL Pa.—Nearly 50 people have died from vaping-related illnesses and the number of cases continues to rise. For the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked a chemical to the outbreak, naming vitamin E acetate as a “culprit of concern.” FOX43 Reveals what this chemical is and what it does.

According to the CDC, 2,290 cases of e-cigarette or vaping-related lung injuries have been reported from 49 states. As of November 20th, 47 people have died in 25 states—including Pennsylvania. Health officials are scrambling to determine a cause of the outbreak. This month, there is a potential breakthrough as the CDC zeroes in on vitamin E acetate.

The agency said the oily chemical is added to some THC vaping liquids to thicken or dilute them. FOX43 Reveals that vitamin E acetate is actually a synthetic form of vitamin E, which is commonly used in dietary supplements and skin care products.  Vitamin E helps protect our bodies against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are generated from fried foods, alcohol, tobacco, air pollution, and pesticides.

The chemical also can help boost our immune system and widen blood vessels to keep blood from clotting. Vitamin E is naturally found in some foods like almonds, sunflower seeds, spinach, and broccoli.

It is not safe to inhale, according to the CDC. The agency explained vitamin E acetate can cling to the lungs, interfering with how they function.

During its investigation into the outbreak, the CDC tested samples from 29 patients in 10 states. Officials found vitamin E acetate in every sample. THC was identified in 82 percent of those samples and nicotine appeared in 62 percent of the samples.

“It’s direct evidence of vitamin e acetate at the primary site of injury within the lungs,” said Ann Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, their investigation is far from over.

In the meantime, the CDC recommends vitamin E acetate should not be added to any e-cigarette or vaping products. FOX43 Reveals has been keeping an eye on the latest outbreak information. The next update on case counts and deaths is expected December 5th, due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

FOX43 Reveals spoke with Nick Kovacevich, CEO of KushCo Holdings. The company is one of the nation’s largest providers of ancillary products and services to companies in the cannabis industry. The company sells products like vaping hardware, packaging, supplies, and accessories. Founded in 2010, KushCo strives to be the industry leader for responsible and compliant products and services in the cannabis industry.

In a web exclusive, Kovacevich explains why he supports raising the age to buy vaping products to 21. He is calling on the government to implement testing standards and regulations for the vaping industry.

FOX43 Reveals issues that affect you and your family to keep you informed. Do you have a tip that needs to be investigated? Or documents we should dig into? Send us a confidential news tip at fox43reveals@fox43.com.