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.

Today’s Top Stories


CDC reports monkeypox cases....
Waverly Golden

CDC confirms five monkeypox cases in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed a total of five monkeypox cases Wednesday in Utah, four cases are located in Salt Lake Count and one in Utah County, according to the Utah Department of Health. On Tuesday, the total number of cases statewide was three.  With […]
17 hours ago
A crowd gathers in front of the Utah State Capitol on Friday, June 24, 2022, to protest the U.S. Su...
Becky Bruce

Different abortion law now in effect in Utah

A different abortion law is now in effect in Utah, and it bans abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy. However, there are several exceptions to this law.
2 days ago
Rising temperatures across the country are putting the homeless at risk of heat-related death. Many...
Waverly Golden, Aimee Cobabe

Heat waves bring concerns for heat-related illnesses and the homeless population

Record-breaking heat waves have caused an abundance of heat-related deaths among the homeless.
2 days ago
IV bags hang in a room. Intermountain healthcare conducted a study on IV fluid....
Samantha Herrera

Intermountain Healthcare study finds “better” IV fluid treatment

Researchers with Intermountain Healthcare conducted a 15-month-long study to learn the effects of using an alternative IV fluid for patients.
2 days ago
thousands turned out to demonstrate their opposition to the Supreme Court's ruling on Roe v. Wade...
Curt Gresseth

Lawmaker seeks to remove felony statute from Utah’s abortion trigger law

A Democratic lawmaker in Utah said she has filed a bill to remove the felony-punishment aspect of Utah's trigger law that went into effect when the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade Friday.
3 days ago
Protesters hold signs and chant at the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 24, 2022, as ...
Simone Seikaly

Temporary stay issued for Utah’s trigger law

In the lawsuit, Planned Parenthood of Utah names multiple defendants and says Utah's abortion trigger law violates the state constitution.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
New vaping numbers in Utah paint a troubling picture, health officials say