Each week over the past several months we've heard new reports of mysterious lung injuries-- all related to vaping.
Now it's been given a name by the CDC, EVALI, or E-cigarette or Vaping product use- Associated Lung Injury.
There have been 34 cases in residents from seven Connecticut counties and according to the CDC one fatality in our state-- so far.
In her 20 years of practice, the director of Yale's pediatric pulmonary function lab, Dr. Pnina Weiss says short of toxic exposure, she's never seen anything of this magnitude. "The stats are staggering.. 1 out of four high schoolers have tried it in the last thirty day’s. We have kids and adults dying from it. It’s unpredictable- it could be the first time you smoke... it could be months of smoking."
Because ecigs are highly marketed, but unregulated by the FDA, doctors and researchers are scrambling to understand what exactly it is making so many people so sick so quickly--
Whether it's the device itself, what is smoked, or a combination.
Dr. Weiss says 75 percent of the cases we know of are related to dabbing or mixing THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. 15 percent of the cases appear to be nicotine alone.
Some preliminary testing has revealed the same chemicals used in antifreeze and toner cartridges to be present in what people some people are smoking.
The bottom line, says Dr. Bartolome Celli, a pulmonologist and professor of medicine, from Harvard medical school, our lungs weren't built for this stuff, "You would not like to get close to the exhaust pipe of a bus and inhale that stuff. Think of it that way, the lungs were meant to inhale fresh air."
Dr. Weiss says EVALI often looks like pneumonia in a chest x-ray accompanied by fever chills, and respiratory systems. She has spent much of the last year beside teens hooked to breathing machines in the ICU, consoling their heartbroken parents, many who never knew their kids were vaping in the first place.
Weiss says, "It’s scary for the family and you just try as a position to do your darnedest to get them through the night... it’s absolutely critical that you discuss vaping and e-cigarette’s with your children before you sitting next to their ICU bed."
To read more on an NIH-funded study that found teens prefer mint and mango vaping flavors, click here.