What is Vaping Illness (a.k.a. VAPI or EVALI)?
Vaping Illness is a relatively new phenomenon. The recent outbreak has been linked with an increased use of vaporizing devices to consume nicotine or cannabis. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, gastrointestinal issues, weight loss and fever.
Of course, anything you inhale has potential to damage your lungs. Makes sense, right? But many people simply don’t pay that much attention to what they are putting in their bodies. Knowing exactly what you’re inhaling is the first step to preventing EVALI. We’ve laid out the vaping variables below so you can make smart choices when it comes to your consumption.
What can make vaping harmful?
The potential threats of vaping come from either the substance being vaped or the vaping device itself. Vaping devices can be made with inferior materials, like non-medical grade plastics or heavy metals, like lead, that can create toxic fumes when heated. Heated metal coils or other parts of the device can deteriorate over time and add to the toxic cocktail. Bet you can already feel your lungs just thinking about that
What’s inside your vape?
It doesn’t matter if you’re replacing cigarettes with vaping nicotine or using a vape to consume cannabis, it’s crucial that you know what’s in the stuff you’re inhaling. Even though both Canadian and some U.S. state governments strictly regulate the growing, manufacturing, and packaging standards of the legal e-cigarette and cannabis industries, there’s still a large illicit market. Many EVALI patients reported purchasing from these sources.
An unregulated market can be full of unidentified ingredients. When THC is extracted from a plant it is a thick, sticky oil that needs to be thinned out in order to work in a vaporizer. Not only are thinners added, but other substances that are added for flavour or to improve product performance can release harmful poisons. Thickeners, like Vitamin E acetate, propylene glycol (PG) or vegetable glycerin (VG) are added to oils to improve viscosity, and to produce larger clouds when vaped. Problem is that these additives are not designed to be heated and inhaled, and what we’re now starting to see are the effects on the lungs over time. Let’s all take a deep breath.
Even the plant source can affect your lungs. When plants are grown using pesticides or in soil contaminated with heavy metals like mercury or arsenic, these substances can appear in your vape product. In fact, fungicides found in unregulated THC cartridges can transform into hydrogen cyanide when burned or vaped at a high enough temperature. Scary stuff!
Nipping EVALI in the bud
Don’t fear the vape. Despite the emergence of EVALI, vaporizing is still a healthier option than smoking and there are a few smart steps you can take to stay safe. First, invest in a high quality, medical grade vaporizing device from a reputable manufacturer, such as Pax or Airizer.
Next, remember the quality of cannabis and vaping oils is key. Vaporizing dried flower is among the safest ways to consume cannabis because the relatively low temperatures used in these devices limit the carcinogens you inhale.
If you’d rather vape cannabis oil, remember that regulated vaping oil from high quality cannabis is your best bet, because Health Canada does not allow harmful chemicals in legal vaping products. Here in Ontario, the healthiest move is to buy legal products and high-quality devices once they are available in licensed stores like mīhī.
It’s relative but important
37.9 million cigarette smokers* = Annual related deaths 39,000 in Canada/ 480,000 in United States
27 million cannabis consumers* = 19 deaths from vaping-related illness
63% of Canadian cannabis consumers are concerned about the negative health effects of vaping cannabis. They shouldn’t be … if they make informed choices.
*Canada and USA
Canadians using cannabis:
Americans using cannabis:
Americans smoking cigarettes https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/adult_data/cig_smoking/index.htm
Canadians smoking cigarettes