Toxic E-Cigarette Products Cause Deadly Respiratory Illness Outbreak and 1 Death in Illinois
As of September 5, 2019, health officials reported to The Washington Post that five people have now died of a lung illness linked to vaping with another 450 possible cases in 33 states and one territory known. E-cigarettes, which officials define as battery-operated devices that heat a liquid and deliver an aerosol product, are most commonly used to inhale nicotine but can also be used to deliver (vape) THC, CBD and certain types of oils.
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report released on Friday, September 6, most of the patients treated thus far:
- have been young and healthy and reported using e-cigarettes
- share similar symptoms (including cough, chest pain or shortness of breath)
- had the illness over a course of several days to several weeks before hospitalization
Health department officials from both Illinois and Wisconsin led a joint investigation of 53 Midwest patients and concluded: “The severity of the illness and the recent increase in the incidence of this clinical syndrome indicates that these cases represent a new or newly recognized and worrisome cluster of pulmonary disease related to vaping.”
In Illinois, cases so far have been reported in Chicago and Champaign, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, Peoria, St. Clair, and Will counties and one death has occurred related to the mysterious vaping illness, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health’s statement released on August 23, 2019.
How Dangerous is the Vaping-Related Illness Outbreak?
An editorial published on September 6, 2019, in The New England Journal of Medicine by David C. Christiani, M.D., M.P.H. states, “Depending on the type of chemical agent and the amount of material inhaled, patients may experience symptoms ranging from minor respiratory tract discomfort to acute airway injury and damage to the parenchyma with pneumonitis, alveolar edema, respiratory failure, and death. A common pathophysiological pathway includes inflammation, edema of airways with epithelial sloughing, alveolar inflammation, and edema with hypoxemia.”
Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman, who is leading the CDC’s investigation into the illness, told The New York Times on September 6, “While this investigation is ongoing, people should consider not using e-cigarette products.”
As of now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not been able to specify one type of device or substance linked to the deaths and reported cases, but e-cigarette products have been shown to contain several groups of potentially toxic compounds including:
- volatile organic compounds (such as benzene and toluene)
- trace metal elements
- bacterial endotoxins
- fungal glucans
- flavorants (such as diacetyl and 2,3-pentanediol)
FDA officials say they will stay busy reviewing more than 120 e-cigarette product samples for the presence of a broad range of substances but Dr. Christiani’s recommendation is, “Until the investigation into the cause of this epidemic of vaping-induced respiratory injury is complete, no conclusions can be drawn as to which compound or compounds are the causes of injury. In light of these cases, however, efforts should be made to increase public awareness of the harmful effect of vaping, and physicians should discourage their patients from vaping.”
Understanding Your Rights as an Injured Consumer
Our firm represents plaintiffs in the Chicago, Illinois area in matters against corporations or manufacturers who have sold or provided unsafe products to consumers. If you or a loved one has suffered because of a dangerous or defective product, contact Levin & Perconti online for a free consultation or call us at 877-374-1417 to speak with a lawyer. There are no fees for our services unless we successfully resolve your case.