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Research Suggests Vaping-Related Lung Disease May Be Caused by Chemical Exposure

  • October 15, 2019
  • KBA Attorneys
  • No Comments

One group of authors define e-cigarettes as follows, “E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat a liquid and deliver an aerosolized product to the user.” Another group of researchers explained, “Unlike traditional cigarettes, ENDS use solvents to heat and aerosolize the flavorants (known as “juices”), which consist of various aldehydes and alcohols, and complications can arise as the mixing and aerosolization of these components create new compounds.” (footnote omitted).

There is a growing body of science linking these products to various respiratory injures. For example, there has been an increase in respiratory issues associated with vaping. Sadly, there have been deaths from vaping. As we reported before, children are especially at risk as companies have allegedly targeted them. Not surprisingly, vaping lawsuits are being pursued. Consequently, KBA attorneys are investigating vaping cases.

Reports of vaping related injuries continue to increase.

There are many news articles about vaping out there. There is also a group of scientific research that has highlighted the risks. State and federal governments are acting accordingly.

The federal government and state governments have issued warnings.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Illinois Department of Public Health received reports of pulmonary disease associated with the use of e-cigarettes (also called vaping) and launched a coordinated public health investigation in July 2019. They warned the public in August. Wisconsin recently updated its findings. They maintain a webpage regarding outbreaks. As of this writing, Wisconsin reported the following:

Number of Cases
Confirmed and Probable Cases* 73
Additional Patients Under Investigation 15




A federal agency, the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”), reported an “Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-Cigarette Use, or Vaping” earlier this month. It noted the following statistics:

  • It associated 1,299* lung injury cases with the use of e-cigarette or vaping products as of October 8, 2019, 1,299. 49 states, the District of Columbia, and 1 U.S. territory reported these findings to CDC.
  • CDC confirmed 26 deaths in 21 states.

The Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) similarly reported about “Lung Illnesses Associated with Use of Vaping Products.” It has conducted analyses of samples and worked with CDC and others to gather information

Independent researchers have published their findings as well.

One of the earliest reports we found is 2018. Specifically, doctors reported respiratory failure caused by lipoid pneumonia from vaping e-cigarettes in 2018 Jul 6;2018. pii: bcr-2018-224350. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2018-224350. These British doctors reported “a young female vaper” who had “insidious onset cough, progressive dyspnoea on exertion, fever, night sweats and was in respiratory failure when admitted to hospital. They took chest radiographs and high-resolution CTs. These showed “diffuse ground-glass infiltrates with reticulation.” Because “the bronchoscopy and high-volume lavage was unyielding, a video-assisted thoracoscopicsurgical biopsy was done later and was suggestive of lipoid pneumonia.” The researchers concluded that “[t]he only source of lipid was the vegetable glycerine found in e-cigarette (EC).” Notably, there was no improvement as she continued vaping against the doctors’ advice.

Physicians investigated pulmonary illnesses related to e-cigarette use in Illinois and Wisconsin. They defined “case patients” as people “who reported use of e-cigarette devices and related products in the 90 days before symptom onset and had pulmonary infiltrates on imaging and whose illnesses were not attributed to other causes.” They found 53 case patients, mostly men with a median age of 19. Almost all had respiratory symptoms (98%). Patients also reported gastrointestinal symptoms (81%) and constitutional symptoms (100%). All case patients of them showed “bilateral infiltrates on chest imaging.” (Id.)

Another group of physicians submitted a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine referring to “[r]ecent case clusters of a respiratory syndrome associated with e-cigarette use (vaping)….” The physicians described clinical features of six cases in Utah to help characterize this “nascent syndrome.” Their cases were similar to those reported in Illinois and Wisconsin.

In a letter to the Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, yet another group of doctors reported 19 cases and found 15 other cases in the literature. The noted that “[a]ll met the case definition of vaping-associated lung injury, which includes “abnormalities on chest imaging.”

There may be similar problems as with traditional cigarette smoking.

The problems described above seem unique to vaping, but some issues seem to overlap with traditional cigarette smoking. Observing that “[v]aping is commercially promoted as a safer alternative to traditional cigarette smoking” one group of researchers noted that while prior “studies have reported a close relationship between conventional cigarette smoking and acute eosinophilic pneumonia (AEP),” there was only one case report to date associates vaping with AEP. It was in a male patient. These doctors presented the first case of AEP involving a young female after use of e-cigarettes.

After speaking with your physician, contact KBA if you have suffered a respiratory illness after vaping

In sum, there are a lot of reports right now regarding the association between vaping and respiratory illness. Users should take note and heed warnings from the government and others. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact a healthcare professional. Our attorneys along with co-counsel are here to help investigate potential claims where warranted.