US health authorities said Friday that it is likely that the mystery of lung disease that affected more than 2,000 US vapers and caused 39 deaths was unraveled. The problem would come from a vitamin E oil apparently added in cannabis refills sold on the black market.
The investigators had already pinpointed this oil as possible responsible for this epidemic, but are confirmed in their certainty by its discovery in 29 patients whose lung fluids were analyzed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Harmful when inhaled or heated
"These analyzes provide direct evidence that vitamin E acetate is the main cause of lung damage," said Anne Schuchat, deputy director of the CDC. Acetate is the chemical name of the molecule. She said that "no other potential toxin has yet been detected in the analyzes".
Vitamin E is normally harmless. It can be bought as a swallow capsule or oil to apply to the skin, but it is harmful once inhaled or heated.
Trump is reluctant to ban flavored e-cigarettes
The findings came hours after US President Donald Trump announced his desire to raise the minimum age for e-cigarettes in the United States from 18 to 21 years old.
His statement is part of a broader plan to reduce youth vaping, which will be unveiled next week. "We are going to announce a very important initiative on vaping. We must especially take care of our children, so we are going to have an age limit of about 21, "the billionaire told reporters.
But at the same time he expressed his concern about the impact that too heavy restrictions could have on the future of this nascent industry. His administration could reconsider his plan to ban pure and simple flavored electronic cigarettes, announced in September. "We have to look after a lot of people, including jobs," said the New York billionaire. "It's become a big industry, we'll take care of it."