Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials may have found a possible cause of an outbreak of “e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury,” or EVALI, that has affected at least 2,051 people and killed at least 39 across 49 states, the District of Columbia, and one U.S. territory. The “potential toxin of concern,” a compound known as vitamin E acetate, was found in all 29 lung samples from patients that were tested, the CDC said.

Of the 29 samples, which came from 10 different states, 23 contained THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and 16 contained nicotine.

“Many products and substances are still being investigated,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat, adding that there may be more than one culprit to the outbreak. Officials are looking into vape devices themselves for answers.

Vitamin E acetate can be found in skin creams and dietary supplement capsules, and is generally not considered dangerous to consumers when applied to the skin or swallowed, Schuchat said. But, “there is a big different between putting vitamin E acetate on one’s skin or swallowing a vitamin E pill and inhaling vitamin E acetate in an e-liquid,” she added.

Schuchat says the number of EVALI cases appears to be declining, but the CDC is still recommending people stop vaping, especially with products that contain THC and those bought off the street. The agency also said that as the investigation into the outbreak continues, no one should add vitamin E acetate to e-liquids or other vaping products.

Beasley Allen lawyers Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett, together with Mass Torts Section Head Andy Birchfield, are currently representing several individuals who are suing JUUL for the negative impact its products have had on their lives. On Oct. 7 they also filed lawsuits on behalf of school districts in three states, which seek to protect students and recover resources spent fighting the vaping epidemic.

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