HEALTH

New vaping numbers in Utah paint a troubling picture, health officials say

Oct 1, 2019, 12:16 PM
vaping flavored vapes...
Photo: Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — New vaping numbers, released weekly by the Utah Department of Health, show ongoing concerns related to vaping or e-cigarette use aren’t going away. In fact, the statistics paint a troubling picture, both at the state and the national level.

The Centers for Disease Control confirmed at least 15 people have died in the U.S. connected to vaping, while numbers released by the state Department of Health show the issue is getting worse in Utah.

So far, Utah health officials say there are 71 confirmed cases of vaping-related lung disease in the state. It’s an increase of more than 20 cases from the previous week.

Officials with the department are focused on identifying the key chemical component that is responsible for widespread lung injury. They can’t say for sure yet what exactly is behind the spread of illness. However, health officials say they feel like they’re on the verge of a breakthrough.

“We believe this is being driven by THC vaping,” explained lead investigator with the department, Keegan McCaffrey. “So vaping THC cartridges that have been purchased illegally.”

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana — in other words, it’s the chemical believed to give marijuana users their “high.”

McCaffrey believes self-reporting statistics locally help to credit the notion that lung disease cases nationwide may be linked to vaping THC.

“6% of the cases we’ve seen have self-reported only vaping nicotine,” said McCaffrey. “That’s compared to 36% of cases that have reported only vaping THC.”

With that in mind, a majority of vapers are actually using both, McCaffrey said.

“58% of our cases have vaped both nicotine and THC,” he added.

The investigative team has identified THC cartridges as the biggest concern right now.

“We know these are unregulated, we know they’re illegal, and we know they are being cut and tampered with,” McCaffrey said.

Even with the health department identifying a major concern, it could take some significant time to officially sort out the chemical responsible for so many health problems. For example, when the health department tested cartridges of both nicotine and THC earlier this month, the nicotine cartridges contained nicotine and no unexpected substances. 90% of the tested THC cartridges were “cut” with Vitamin E acetate.

“I think it could be months before we learn what is the actual chemical causing these injuries,” McCaffrey said.

The health department advised people not to vape THC cartridges until they are able to learn more about the causes and long-term effects.

People who get sick experience a range of symptoms including coughing, chest pain and fatigue. The Utah health department says about 94% of patients with the lung disease needed to be placed in a hospital. Some of those needed ventilator assistance to breathe.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team. here.

Today’s Top Stories

Health

Baby Formula Shortagae...
Aubri Wuthrich

Shortage of baby formula continues to worry parents

While the baby formula shortage has improved since earlier this year, experts say there still isn't enough.
1 day ago
A Utah doctor says Americans should not avoid a preventative test for colon cancer, despite a recen...
Simone Seikaly

After celebrity death to colon cancer, Utah doctor weighs in on colonoscopy

Colon cancer and colonoscopies are in the news after the death of actress Kirstie Alley to colorectal cancer.
1 day ago
A woman wishing not to be identified shows her sadness after the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake ran ou...
Waverly Golden

Expert joins Inside Sources on women accessing homeless resources

Emily Darowski, Associate Director for the Utah Women and Leadership Project, discusses a recent study the project conducted on women accessing homeless resources in Utah.
2 days ago
KSL NewsRadio's Dave & Dujanovic discuss how to deal with and overcome seasonal depression....
Mark Jones

How to deal with and overcome seasonal depression

KSL NewsRadio's Dave & Dujanovic discuss how to deal with and overcome seasonal depression.
2 days ago
a small boy recieves a COVID-19 vaccine in China...
JOE McDONALD Associated Press

China eases anti-COVID measures following protests

Experts warn, however, that restrictions can’t be lifted completely until at least mid-2023 because millions of elderly people still must be vaccinated.
2 days ago
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19:  The U.S. Capitol is shown as a looming government shutdown threatens ...
Manu Raju and Phil Mattingly, CNN

Defense bill likely to include end to military Covid vaccine mandate, source says

A massive bill setting defense policy is likely to end the military Covid vaccine mandate, a source familiar with the negotiations tells CNN.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
New vaping numbers in Utah paint a troubling picture, health officials say