Vaping Dangers, Deaths, and Strategies

My thoughts on the recent tragic vaping deaths.

  1.    is a good starting point for gaining an understanding of the “vape issue.” Lung disease and deaths are rearing their ugly heads.
  2. For clarity, vaping is done with either a rechargeable battery with a “factory” made cartridge attached, or is a battery (USB charged frequently) attached to a small container containing the ingredients. The gooey contents are heated to temperatures below combustion temperatures. Typical temperatures are in the range of 220 deg. F.  The cartridge, or “cart,” is filled with the viscous liquid which will be heated, producing vapor. The other for of vaping which is common, and which involves vaping only the flower material, uses the rechargeable battery to heat the plant flower in a screened container, producing the vapor, with no extra chemistry from combustion. Since there is no extra chemistry added to the plant material, I suspect that none of the current scare has anything to do with this mode of vape. The “normal” problems with cannabis remain, such as use of inappropriate pesticides.

It appears that as of today (from the lay sources) the deaths and illnesses  may have been caused by heated, vaporized oil in the lungs. This can result from the vape cartridges (“carts”) being filled with the wrong oils, or with the wrong oil additives. So some things perhaps including flavor oils, glycerin, and other viscous oils are used. To vaporize these chemicals, far higher temperatures are required. Since these chemicals are heated but not enough to vaporize them, The lungs can become “gunked up,” and not work properly, leading to severe consequences in some cases. An example of an extreme case involves a heavy user of nicotine “carts,” vapor cartridges, possibly homemade. The negative effects so far appear to be not occurring in carts made in marijuana-legal states (which have chemical purity /content testing as part of their state regulation. Also, I’ve seen no accounts of any problems with regulated commercial cartridges, and none with THC which is tested and controlled, a goal of legalization.

It is theorized that vanilla acetate, or vitamin E, or with some other relatively heavy oil may be the root cause of the (starting)  9/9/2019 spate of horribly tragic vape deaths and lung damage and illness..Those oil, taken in this way,  are oils that appear to be able to kill, apparently because it does not vaporize without very high temps. These temps are far above what is produced by a THC or e-cig vaporizer.

So far the apparent cause of the recent deaths appears to be  solely associated with after-market cartridges, not towards legally produced and regulated cartridges. We should know shortly. Testing of course must be appropriate. Is this perhaps an unintended consequence, with no one having thought of oil in cartridges being a deadly problem? If so, did testing miss it because we did not know to look for it? Probably not, since the illnesses and deaths are not apparently associated with legal regulated tested cannabis.

Again, regulated legalized states are in the best position to protect our citizens from this random death penalty for vaping anything.  Youngsters vaping nicotine is a separate severe danger. Emergency rules can be put in place  as we are already seeing.

My advice: I would be hesitant to use any cartridges that have been laying around.  The older they are, the greater the chance that they might be “pre-regulation.” The older cartridges may have been untested, tested poorly or incompletely or tested too long ago. The more volatile components may have evaporated, leaving the less desirable bigger chain oily molecules in higher percentages.  It would be like burning candle wax or burning jet fuel.   Warning: This part might be stressful. Be calm as you properly dispose of old expensive cartridges.  To me, guessing only, I think that once a cart is 2-3 years old it’s likely both pretty different in appearance (going to golden brown, honey color) and probably the container is not as full. Not good signs generally if safety is a goal.

Also, for anyone with compromised health, like heart issues or other cardio-pulminary or anyone electing caution say heart or the like, now 9/9/2019 might be a good time to avoid vaping products which are home-made. This is especially true of the “cart” originates from a state that is in yet testing and regulating their cannabis products, allowing the labs to do their job. CDC is all over it.

Additionally, since the lethality is apparently not age or health dependent, I would extend my thinking to anyone who is currently vaping either tobacco or THC or any other material. This is a good time to wait and see, not “vape and see.” I suspect that vaping the pure flower alone is far far safer than inhaling what is basically a broad-band distillate of a number of things including cannabis. For “legal and regulated” states, assuming professional work by the various state labs, I would be generally comfortable using vaping products which employ cartridges.

My thinking is that while we are quickly narrowing in on the vector of the health impacts from the “killer vapes,” we do not quite yet know, as of 9/9/2019, at 9 PM EST, just what is causing the deaths. And I did not sign up as an experimental subject. .

If smoking weed is used as an alternative for this short time, a single toke may be quite sufficient. Remember that a joint from the store costs $5 to 10 for a one gram joint. A pair of tweezers (once called roach clips) is a good investment. Pipes are efficient I suspect, if used one hit at a time.

If edibles are substituted, remember the dosing issues, timing issues, and pay attention to the sugar, since so many are high in sugar. They also vary somewhat a great amount, in kick.

If one is to continue vaping, perhaps relying upon only the “legitimate, legal, regulated, and lab tested  cartridges, and paying attention to the expiration dates which I suspect are on the packaging, might be sufficient.