The Rash Of Vaping-Related Deaths Is Growing
Vaping is safer than smoking, or at least it’s supposed to be. Smoke (tobacco smoke or otherwise) is full of carcinogens, tar, and other chemicals that don’t belong in human lungs. On the other hand, water vapor is something your lungs produce: it’s why your breath becomes visible when it’s freezing out. Breathing in water vapor infused with nicotine should be much less hazardous than traditional cigarettes, but unfortunately several hundred recent lung illnesses and a few deaths have very recently been linked to vaping.
E-cigarettes and vaping have only been around for around 10 years. Because of this, there isn’t much data about the long-term effects of vaping on a person’s health. Vaping, in general, may be a healthier choice than smoking, but then that’s not saying much.
One disease that’s been linked to vaping is popcorn lung, a condition that inflames the small passageways of the lungs and can create scar tissue. This makes it harder for your lungs to extract oxygen and leads to a dry cough and shortness of breath. Multiple additives used in e-cigarettes have been linked to this condition.
In fact, additives seem to be the biggest problem source when it comes to vaping. While nicotine (and THC in states where it’s legal) are safe enough to breathe in, the vials used in vaping devices also contain other chemicals like preservatives and flavorings. The vials produced by legal manufacturers are regularly tested, but not every vial comes from a legal source.
The FDA hasn’t done much yet to regulate vaping and e-cigarettes. As a result, it’s fairly easy to get poorly designed vaping devices that can overheat and explode. Several injuries and a few deaths have been linked to these bad designs.
Just as dangerous are the vaping products people can buy on the street instead of going to a legal outlet. Vaping has caught on as an alternative to smoking marijuana, but in states where it’s not legal to buy people are creating the extracts at home without any sort of safety tests. Now that many states are banning flavored vaping products, e-cigarette users are also turning to black-market sources to get flavored nicotine vials.
The Vapor Problem
One possible source of the current rash of vaping illnesses is vitamin E. Vitamin E is an essential chemical the human body needs to survive, but if you heat it up it can turn into carbonic acid. Carbonic acid is relatively weak, but any kind of acid is dangerous if it gets in your lungs. Vitamin E occurs naturally in oils produced from sunflowers, almonds, peanuts, and other sources, and people often use these oils as a base for their homemade vaping products.
Unfortunately, since these vaping-related illnesses are most likely caused by illegally sold vaping products, the people who are suffering likely don’t have a legal recourse. They used their e-cigarettes outside of their intended design, and so for the most part that makes them fully responsible for what happens to them. However, there could still be an unknown factor causing or contributing to this rash of illnesses. The fact is that vaping is still very new and not every chemical in a vaping vial stays the same when you heat it past the boiling point.
Smoking is hazardous to your health, but these hazards are well known by this point. Vaping is healthier, but the risks involved are still mostly unknown and unexplored. By far the safest (and the cheapest) alternative is to simply quit using nicotine products entirely. Once you do that, your lungs will be in good shape to do the one thing they were designed for: to breathe oxygen.