December 19, 2019

Background: E-cigarettes or “vapes” are now the most popular tobacco product among US teens and are used by 20% of all high-schoolers2. Vapes are used to heat and vaporize a liquid (e-juice or vape juice) that may contain nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), or ultraconcentrated THC resin (hash oil, wax, or dabs.)3. Since their introduction, vaping devices have been studied for the numerous potentially harmful chemicals they can introduce into users, including: heavy metals (cadmium, nickel, lead), plastic-related toxic gases (like cyanide and phosgene), volatile organic compounds, ultrafine particles, and diacetyl flavoring (linked to a chronic pulmonary syndrome known as ‘popcorn lung,’ which is not as appealing as it sounds)4. More recently, a spectrum of lung illnesses related to vaping have become the focus of a national public health investigation. These cases have been described in almost every US state since early summer 2019; as of November 2019, there have been over 2000 cases of ‘Vaping-Associated Lung Injury’ (VALI) reported to the CDC, with 42 associated deaths. The article discussed below is a large case series from the Midwest depicting the clinical characteristics and outcomes of patients with VALI from April to August 2019.  Since then, several more epidemiological and analytical investigations have been published, and studies are ongoing to clarify the causes and best treatments for this disorder. We chose this article for REBEL EM because it represents a well-done early investigation of an emerging epidemic which contributed valuable clinical insights for emergency medicine practice.
0