CDC Homes In on the Chemical Villain Causing Mysterious Vaping Illnesses
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Hello and happy Friday, readers!
There’s been a rush to figure out what, exactly, is the chemical villain fueling a growing rash of vaping-related lung injuries and illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Thursday announced that the total case count had climbed to 2,051, as well as 39 confirmed deaths.
We may finally be getting some answers. Potential culprits have included various compounds including vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, and vitamin E acetate. But the latter was linked to all cases examined by the CDC, the agency announced in an update on Friday.
The CDC tested lung fluid samples from 29 patients across ten states; all of these sample included vitamin E acetate. The vast majority of the collected samples (82%) included the marijuana psychoactive compound THC while 62% contained nicotine (marijuana vaping pods, depending on the source they come from, may contain nicotine).
“This is the first time that we have detected a potential chemical of concern in biologic samples from patients with these lung injuries. These findings provide direct evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury within the lungs,” wrote CDC researchers.
The agency also reiterated its warning to avoid THC-containing vaping products, especially if they come from the black market. And, to be clear, this is still a relatively small sample size, so there could well be other chemicals at play in the illness. But this could prove an initial breakthrough in this particular public health mystery.
Read on for the day’s news, and have a wonderful weekend.
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THE BIG PICTURE
For some firms, supporting abortion rights is a business decision, too. In June, nearly 200 top executives signed a full-page ad in the New York Times called "Don't Ban Equality" decrying the growing number of state and federal restrictions on abortion and reproductive health rights. But while that may be a moral and political choice made by some firms, it's also a business one, writes Jess McHugh for Fortune. "For corporations—especially in the land of Silicon Valley and tech start-ups—supporting women’s reproductive freedoms is good business. Many of their users skew female; they are increasingly attracting (or trying to attract) women employees, and for apps that rely on gig workers, abortion bans can even mean lost hours as contractors are forced to seek care out of state," says Jess. (Fortune)
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