Before the pandemic, vaping hospitalizations and even deaths, spread across the news like wildfire. According to the CDC, every U.S. state had at least one case of lung damage from vaping between 2019 and 2020, with a hospitalization count of 2,807 people. The reported death toll ended up being a much smaller number, 68 people. The doctors could only tell the patients that their illness was related to vaping, but had no more information to offer due to the lack of research behind vaping. Doctors found that the main cause of this outbreak was the addition of Vitamin E acetate in some THC-containing vaping products. THC is the main chemical found in marijuana and is known to build up along the inner wall of the lungs. This buildup causes the lungs to function irregularly, and there is no way to get it out.
When the research behind the harmful effects of vaping were made public, cases decreased quite quickly, but vaping is still a cause for concern. Mrs. Kris Hennings, the Dean of Students at Marian, spoke on the dangers of vaping, regardless of the risk of hospitalization. “We don’t know everything vaping does to young lungs. Everything I’ve read speaks on the dangers,” Hennings said. “Statistics show that there’s a high percentage of people vaping. It’s hard to catch students in the act, but they are doing it, and there are serious repercussions from vaping. Teens’ growing bodies don’t need things destroying their lungs, especially with COVID-19 taking the toll on the lungs that it does.”
Doctors around the United States are still unsure of the long-term effects of vaping, as there is not enough data to back up their hypotheses. The CDC reports that “the aerosol that users inhale and exhale from e-cigarettes can potentially expose both themselves and bystanders to other harmful substances, including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs.” Overall, though it was not the main cause of deaths, vaping is still harmful for the lungs and is not a substance that should be put into the bodies of young people whose lungs are still developing.
Dr. Amy Beethe, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Children’s Hospital, speaks on why vaping is so damaging to the lungs and why it is so detrimental to teens. “There’s lots of things that can be put in a vape that aren’t supposed to be there that you inhale,” Beethe said Some of the particles that you inhale are the same found in car exhaust. There are microscopic cilia in the lining of your lungs that help get dirt and debris out of your lungs to keep your lungs healthy. The chemicals paralyze the cilia, killing the defense mechanisms of your lungs. If you’re doing this day after day, you’re permanently damaging your lung tissue. I’ve had some teens in surgery, and they have lots of secretion from the damage, which is what you would see in a 40-year-old smoker. That’s what’s so concerning about it.” So, no matter if Vitamin E acetate is in a vape, they are still harmful.