Are Vape Pens Safe?

The regrettable deaths in 2019 with the use of subpar vape pens have received a lot of media attention, but ED visits for e-cigarette, or vaping-related reasons are still on the decline despite a steep rise in August 2019 and a peak in September of 2019.

The health problems brought to light in the 2019 spike in ED visits was labeled EVALI, or E-cigarette/Vaping Associated Lung Injury.

Vitamin E Acetate Was Used in Early Vape Pens

The EVALI outbreak is closely related to vitamin E acetate. Vitamin E acetate has been discovered in commercial samples examined by the FDA and state laboratories, as well in patient lung fluid samples examined by the CDC from a number of different states. People without EVALI had no vitamin E acetate detected in their lung fluid.

Health officials point to vitamin E acetate (an additive in some THC-containing e-cigarettes) as the primary cause of EVALI. 

A CDC report analyzed bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid from a larger number of EVALI patients from 16 states and compared them to BAL fluid from healthy people. They identified Vitamin E acetate, also found in product samples tested by the FDA and state laboratories, in BAL fluid from 48 of 51 EVALI patients, Vitamin E acetate was not found in any of the BAL fluids of healthy people.

Key Facts about Vitamin E Acetate
  • Vitamin E acetate was used as an additive, most notably in early versions of THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products.
  • Vitamin E is a vitamin found in many foods, including vegetable oils, cereals, meat, fruits, and vegetables. It is also available as a dietary supplement and in many cosmetic products, like skin creams.
  • Vitamin E acetate usually does not cause harm when ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin. However, previous research suggests that when vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it may interfere with normal lung functioning.

2019–2020 vaping lung illness outbreak

An outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) started in 2019 among users of illegal, unregulated cannabis vaping products, almost exclusively in the United States.
Are Vape Pens Safe? Image of Laboratory technician working with electronic cigarettes. Original image sourced from US Government department: Public Health Image Library, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Under US law this image is copyright free, please credit the government department whenever you can”.

Are Vape Pens Safe Today?

The decline in ED visits related to e-cigarette or vaping products can be attributed to the growing awareness of the dangers of Vitamin E Acetate, and manufacturers discontinuing its use as an additive.

So the short answer is yes - with a caveat.

No reputable manufacturer today uses Vitamin E Acetate as an additive to oils intended for vaping, but people need to be careful to source their oil and vape pens from legitimate sources. 

Marijuana oils intended for vaping are not something you want to buy on the street from some guy who made it himself.

They're also not something you should make at home using recipes intended to produce oils for oral or topical application (used like a lotion).

Conclusion: Should I use Vape Pens?

It seems as if the media hysteria was exactly that: hysteria. A bit of care and common sense can pretty much eliminate the risks. Common sense may actually be uncommon, but hopefully you're smart enough to cut through the hype.

Ultimately, decisions about your health practices and whether or not a particular choice makes sense are an intensely private matter. The word "should" is a slippery slope. However, you can reduce the risk of harm by buying from a reputable manufacturer who stands behind their products - like Blitzkrieg Distilleries.
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