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How to Avoid the Vape Illness crisis

How to Avoid the Vape Illness crisis

We all want to have great sessions while not jeopardizing our health. There has never been more uncertainty than right now on how to accomplish that. The FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) levels are at an all-time high. Politicians and agendas on the state and national level are jumping headfirst into banning anything vaporizer-related. All without even having the full picture on which products are to blame for the vape illness crisis. 

The issue becomes even more problematic because of the widespread use of “Umbrella terminology” relating to the vape industry. Vape, Vapes, Vape Pens, Vaping, Vaporizers are all seemingly related and yet can apply to 1000s of unique products such as Electronic cigarette replacements with pre-filled cartridges, Safe desktop units, and portable devices used to heat ground organic herbal material or concentrated Cannabis material, and an aromatherapy air freshener all, unfortunately, share similar namespace due to the common element of heating something to create a vapor. 

Counterfeit Vape cartridges with a White Background
Pre-filled vape cartridges are popular, but potentially hazardous if not purchased from legal vendors.

The Vape Illness Crisis – What We Know So Far

As of October 17, 1200+ lung injuries associated with using e-cigarettes and liquid vape products have been reported. Twenty-two states confirm thirty-one deaths with the number expected to rise. Until the last few months, Doctors have only been asking about tobacco usage when asking about patient history. Now, medical professionals are on high alert and are including questions about Vaping in their patient history information.

Officials state that many of the sick patients said they bought liquid vape products containing THC on the black market. 

Currently, the CDC recommends people should not buy “…e-cigarette or vape products with THC or CBD oils from informal sources (e.g. friends, family members) or “off the street.” And you should not modify or add any substances to these products that are not intended to be there by the manufacturer.”

THC vape cartridges are among the most popular items in the legal and illicit markets, industry analysts said.

The Culprit(s)

THC oil vape cartridge
Typical oil vape cartridge with bubbles

Industry insiders point to recent changes in the ingredients used in liquid THC vaporizers that could make people sick. They say black market operators are using more thickening agents to dilute THC oil because of a crackdown by state authorities that has made the oil more scarce on the black market. You fill tiny disposable containers known as vape cartridges, which you then heat to create inhalable vapor.

THC concentrates are thick and viscous when they are high potency. So when bootleg dealers dilute illicit products with various agents to maximize profits, those products are typically less viscous. Consumers can visually detect the viscosity of the product by turning the cartridge upside down. If a bubble goes from the top to the bottom too quickly, it usually means that theyve cut the product with something. Dealers mask that test by adding a thickening agent, so the bubble doesn’t move as fast. Consumers then end up thinking they are getting a high-potency product.

The Most Common of Which is the Thickening Agent: Vitamin E Acetate. 

Vitamin E is found naturally in certain foods, such as canola oil, olive oil, and almonds. They derive the oil from the vitamin, which is commonly available as a nutritional supplement that they use in topical treatments. It is not known to cause harm when ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin. Its name sounds harmless, experts say, but its molecular structure could make it hazardous when inhaled. Officials state they could associate it with the kinds of respiratory symptoms that many patients have reported, like coughing and chest pain. 

NBC News commissioned cannabis testing lab CannaSafe to test 18 THC cartridges from both legal dispensaries and unlicensed dealers.

Disturbing Test Results

The three cartridges purchased from legal dispensaries in California found no heavy metals, pesticides, or Vitamin E acetate — a residual solvent, NBC News reported. However, 13 of the 15 cartridges from the black market contained Vitamin E acetate.

In addition, CannaSafe tested 10 of the bootleg THC cartridges for pesticides, and all 10 tested positive, NBC News reported. Each contained myclobutanil, a fungicide that can turn into hydrogen cyanide when burned.

Dr. Melodi Pirzada, a pediatric pulmonologist at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Long Island, New York, called the results “very disturbing.”  “(Myclobutanil is) going to cause a very toxic effect on the lungs,” she said. Pirzada noted that Vitamin E can also cause lung damage when inhaled.

In contrast, the experts at the Mayo clinic have investigated and published a brief study on the “Pathology of Vaping-Associated Lung Injury,” in the renowned New England Journal of Medicine. They go on to state the presence of the Vitamin E acetate in initial injuries and tests “may simply be a marker of exposure and not necessarily a marker of toxicity. Although it is difficult to discount the potential role of lipoid, we believe that the histologic changes instead suggest that vaping-associated lung injury represents a form of airway-centered chemical pneumonitis from one or more inhaled toxic substances rather than exogenous lipoid pneumonia as such, but the agents responsible remain unknown.”

This Leads Us Directly to Another Potential Culprit. The Vape or Cartridge Hardware.

In a newly released study, a Colorado lab points to the line of thought that cheaply manufactured vapes and cartridges that use a solder which contains cadmium to fuse metals.

“Cadmium-containing silver solder is less expensive than cadmium-free alternatives, and has improved flow properties which facilitate the joining of dissimilar metals found in vape pen electrical components,” the company says. However, it adds, a “serious form of metal fume fever that occurs after inhalation of cadmium oxide fumes.”

Metal fume fever “is a condition in which the sufferer has influenza-type symptoms—a raised temperature, chills, aches and pains, nausea, and dizziness,” says the Welding Institute, a research and technology organization specializing in welding. The institute adds that exposure to some metal fumes, such as cadmium, “can cause more serious illnesses or even death.”

Vape Pen solder points
Vape pen solder points and exposure opportunity on automatic vape pens

Colorado Green Lab has since posted an update to its study with some provocative and potentially damning results. After cutting open many cheap vape pens to inspect the internal structure and soldering, there is some initial evidence to avoid using cheap vape pens. “Solvent metal leaching and short circuit (“heat”) are possible in many pens due to proximity and size of solder points”.

What Will Be Done About It?

They have conclusively identified not one single product/substance as the cause of the lung injuries, the New York Post reported. However, testing is underway. The Food and Drug Administration is analyzing 80 samples received from patients, The New York Times reported but hasn’t yet made the results public.

New York State Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said Monday he is ordering the state health department to issue subpoenas to three companies the department has identified as selling popular thickening substances linked to the mysterious vaping-related lung illnesses.

Companies are Being Served

THC oil Thickener
One of the THC Oil Thickening agents made by subpoenaed company Floraplex

The companies being served with the subpoena are Honey Cut Labs in California, for its Honey Cut Diluting Agent; Floraplex Terpenes in Ypsilanti, Mich., for its Uber Thick agent; and Mass Terpenes in Amherst, Mass., for its Pure Diluent.

Meanwhile in Boston Massachusetts, on September 24th, the Governor’s administration declared a public health emergency and implemented a four-month temporary ban on the sale of all vaping products to analyze reported cases of vape illness and consider the next steps.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has also directed officials to impose an emergency ban on flavored vaping products. The ban is for both nicotine and those products containing THC. The governor told the state Board of Health to vote on the ban the next time they meet on Oct. 9. He also said he would push legislation to make the prohibition permanent.

The FDA disclosed that it has launched a criminal investigation with the Drug Enforcement Administration. That is happening alongside the probe by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into the cause of the vape illnesses. You don’t need to worry since federal officials aren’t pursuing individual vapers. But if the FDA determines “someone is manufacturing or distributing illicit, adulterated vaping products that caused vape illness and death for personal profit, we consider that to be a criminal act,” said acting FDA Commissioner Norman “Ned” Sharpless.

The Solutions to avoid vape induced vape illness:

Do Not Use Cheap Vape Pens

These cheap/disposable vape pens that are linked to nearly everyone getting sick are problematic and dangerous. Many have lead or cadmium-containing solder exposed to your inhaling airflow, posing a considerable risk to you. Both using potentially toxic cadmium or lead fume inhalation, and by short circuits via leakage and exposed solder. Buy a quality vaporizer device from a reliable manufacturer to stay safe! All of our products here at Boundless Technology proudly only use solder that is cadmium and lead-free.

Avoid Pre-filled Cartridges

Even if Vitamin E acetate is not the direct cause of the vape illness crisis, it is alarming to know just how diluted and “cut” the pre-filled cartridges are when not purchased from a legal vendor or a regulated state. Much like fast food sells you “food-like products” that are heavily dosed in preservatives, sodium, and dyes – these pre-filled carts are being filled with a great quantity of liquid that is not the THC/CBD oil to dilute and deceive the customer. If you insist on using cartridges, Fill your own!

Load Your Material

Bring your smoke sessions back to basics. Ground cannabis flower and trusted marijuana concentrates are not in the news for a reason. Do not settle for the fast-food equivalent of your favorite flower. Grind your herb and use a trusted dry-herb vaporizer.

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4 Comments

Just bought my “wonderful” BoundlessCF. I will need an jerb grinder to grind my herb to the proper consistency. Do you still offer those CNC aluminum grinders as part of your package? Thank you. I tell all my friends how exceptionally well your products are engineered!!

I own six (6) vapes all, not the pre-filled crap, but choices for various uses.

The Tera is an exceptional, convection-based unit, the only way to go when considering how and what you draw when loading your selection of cannabis & NOT pre-rolled shit that you are uncertain as to content.

Thank You for sharing this much-needed information.
Having suffered thru now my 5th lower-back surgery, I can unequivocally state (and have volunteered to testify before the FDA and Congress, if it would be of any value) to speak to the positive impact the use of marijuana has been in assisting to control the pain I must live with daily. When family members learned I was vaping, they immediately went into a panic, as my father died young from pancreatic cancer (and, in fact, all my grandparents and their siblings all died from cancer of some form). I’ve tried to reassure them that this latest anti-legalization hype is just that… one bit of data being dramatized and taken completely out-of-context in an effort by Big Pharma to prevent the movement to legalize.