A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association reports that lung injury was observed in an animal model after exposure to electronic cigarette vapor without the presence of nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or vitamin E acetate oil. Previous studies into e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), which has accounted for thousands of hospitalizations and dozens of deaths since 2019, had only observed symptoms associated with the disease (including shortness of breath, acute respiratory distress, chest pain) following exposure to products containing THC, nicotine, or vitamin E acetate oil, which was used as a thickening agent in vaping products.
The new study involved the use of a vaping device with a nichrome heating element. Researchers found EVALI-like injuries in the lungs after use on high power (70 W). Use at a lower power level, 60 W, appeared to be far less deleterious. Neither vitamin E acetate, nicotine, THC nor another confounding compound was present in the vaping solution.
According to the paper, injuries included lung legions that “included thickening of the alveolar wall with foci of inflammation, red blood cell congestion, obliteration of alveolar spaces, and pneumonitis in some cases; bronchi showed accumulation of fibrin, inflammatory cells, and mucus plugs.”
The paper suggests that nichrome heating elements and/or high heat may pose a potential danger to users even without the presence of vitamin E acetate, nicotine, or THC.
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