As of recently 64 individuals have lost their lives after using vaping products in America, with over 2,758 vapers hospitalised across 50 states. This makes it incredibly important to take a renewed look at your vape use and the potential dangers posed by black-market or illegal THC cartridges.
The first reports about vaping made the headlines in late August of this year after the unfortunate death of an Illinois resident. Once an initial infection was identified, others quickly followed – with cases reported in almost every stare across the US. As official bodies moved to learn more about the condition and establish cause, media attention spiked, and reporting reached fever-pitch. This prompted a preventative response from nearby Illinois who banned flavoured vapes throughout the state. With reported cases peaking in September, the media and public’s interest and concern has seen numbers of cases steadily decline in the months thereafter. Behind the scenes, healthcare practitioners, researchers, and analysts have worked to identify some of the key markers for the condition. This has been challenging in the extreme for medical practitioners due to the sheer number of variables involved with lifestyle choices, health, and the range of official and black-market products used. As of the time of writing, the issue also appears to be primarily confined to the United States – raising questions about why it has yet to be broadly experienced in the UK, Europe, or further afield. This makes it important to understand the issue and ensure you are properly protected from future risk.
What are the symptoms?
At this stage, one of the major obstacles facing doctors is that of settling on a common cause. While patients exhibit similar generic symptoms, there are enough variations between each individual case to make analysis strikingly difficult. However, one of the first symptoms displayed by patients is coughing, followed by shortness of breath after light physical exertion. At this point a visit to the doctor commonly displays signs of inflammation in both lungs. If untreated, this can lead to light-headedness and collapse. Once these early signs are reported, a patient’s health plummets – leading to their hospitalisation within months, week, or – in some cases - days. A common marker for the condition is fluid build-up in the lungs, forcing them to work harder to draw breath. This causes the patient to struggle when to get sufficient oxygen into their blood and – as the lungs work harder and harder, resulting in diminished lung capacity and respiratory distress. This makes the condition especially different for users who may have taken up vaping after stopping smoking. This also extends to those choosing to take CBD infused products for a range of reasons or those with reduced lung capacity or injuries. In addition, the majority of sufferers appear to be under 30 years of age with no common history of medical problems – making the acuteness of their decline striking.
How is THC involved?
While research is ongoing, a number of common factors have been identified by institutions such as the CDC – chief among these was the prevalence of THC infused or black-market vapes. While these are currently illegal throughout the UK, the devices are growing in popularity throughout the world. These are available in a variety of states throughout America and sold in a range of strengths. And as THC vaping has grown in popularity, so has the black market’s interest in vaping products. For some users, counterfeit products are ideal as they allow them to vape THC infused e liquids at a fraction of conventional cost. While these may bring down their day-to-day costs, they also exponentially increase their risk. Any off-the-street infusion can contain a number of harmful trace chemicals or oils that are used to thin the mix or act as substitute for more expensive ingredients. Many individuals had previously used these products and research is ongoing to see if they were created locally or purchased through dark web sites or other illicit channels. In this case it is not so much the THC but the carrier liquid which causes issues for users. Many early sufferers were admitted displaying lipid fat deposits in their lungs that are commonly found in those suffering from serious viral or bacterial pneumonia. These can be found when certain non-regulated oils are heated to a vaping-compliant temperature, pointing the way toward bootleg vapes playing a role in the epidemic. This makes it essential that you take extra care to confirm the vaping products that you are using are coming from reliable vendors. While it may seem useful and efficient to buy from a friend, the only way you can truly be assured is through using a reliable local service or through purchasing your devices and oils from a reliable, validated online vendor.
Should you be concerned?
If there are ever any health issues that are widely reported, the only sensible approach is take preventative steps to protect yourself as much as possible. However, it is also important to look at the facts, which - in this case - are increasingly point toward black market vapes being of increasing risk and influence with the condition. If you are concerned, it is important to choose a vendor that values the safety of their customers above all else. It is also worth appreciating the difference between CBD and THC, with THC being the psychoactive cannabinoid present in the plant as opposed to the recently legalised CBD which has a number of potential benefits for consumers . While many companies sell CBD infused vaping products these are highly regulated. This means they are almost entirely devoid of THC trace elements, which have to be at 0.2% capacity or lower in order to be sold online or in stores. However, if you are concerned about your health, it is important to stay vigilant about how you consume your product. This does not need to involve living in fear, but simply taking a little bit of extra care and due diligence – especially when it comes to keeping an eye out for potentially harmful counterfeit products.
What are some red flags to look out for?
If you are concerned about the safety of your product, here are some simple things to look out.
An Unknown vendor: Any time you purchase a vaping product, it is essential that you check that the individual you buy it from is fully registered. This can be checked with a quick online search or email inquiry to the company they represent. If they are not possible to validate, it’s worth thinking again about purchasing anything from them.
Suspect Quality: As a rule, off-brand vaping products will be made from inferior materials that can cause accidents or damage. If you are unsure, taking a look at the container or vape will display poor-quality materials, and scuffs or scratches on repurposed vials.
New Brand: If the materials you are sold are from an unfamiliar different company it’s always worth taking a quick google check to confirm that they are indeed a legitimate firm. It is also worth remembering that this can often be a reworded brand name or deploy a design that mimics an established style.
What can you do stay safe?
While the issues with vaping are primarily limited to the US, if you are concerned about being affected, it’s important to take a few extra steps to ensure you stay safe. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to day-to-day use, starting with-
Buying official products: Only purchase devices or materials from known providers. Our complete VSAVI range is developed under the strictest possible guideline and always ensures the highest standards of safety and quality.
Stay informed: While mounting evidence points toward the use of black market vapes and THC infused products, it’s important to follow any breaking stories about further cases appearing outside the US. Keep you updated on relevant stories alongside checking out our regularly updated blog can help you keep up to date in changes to our product line and the steps we’re taking to ensure the highest possible standards for our products.
Maintain your device: In order to make sure that you are avoiding contaminants, try to ensure you are regularly cleaning your device and updating your coils. This is especially important if you are using a multi-function device or are a heavy vaper. If you vape often you may find that your coil can burn out quickly and taking the time to adjust your settings or find a device with adjustable heat or battery strength is a plus. If you want to learn more about how vaping can be part of your commitment to health, you can also take a look at our dedicated safe vaping pages.
Where can I learn more about Vaping?
If you have any questions about our current product range you can view our current device catalogue. Or if you have any questions about our e liquids and their origins, you can contact us directly and let our team know exactly what you need to make the right vaping decision for you.