A Florida college student is warning others about the hazards of vaping JUUL pods after one of his lungs collapsed allegedly from the chemical in the mint-flavored pods he preferred.
Chance Ammirata, an 18-year-old freshman at Florida International University in Miami, told the Daily Mail that he woke up on July 29 with extreme pain in his chest. It hurt him to do anything, but when a friend made him laugh, the crushing pain made him wonder if he was having a heart attack.
His friend took him to the hospital and the pain got progressively worse as doctors performed tests over the course of five hours. They rushed him into surgery when they finally discovered that Chase’s left lung had collapsed.
Black dots in lungs
“When they did the actual major surgery to re-inflate my lungs, the surgeon said, ‘Whatever you’ve been smoking has been leaving these black dots on your lungs,'” Chance told the Daily Mail.
The surgeons were able to repair the hole in Chance’s lungs, but they said the ‘black dots’ in his lungs will likely take years to heal. They also warned Chance that the black dots may never completely disappear.
The news hit Chance hard. He had never smoked regular cigarettes and only started using a JUUL a year and a half ago. He vaped about half a JUUL pod every day – the nicotine equivalent of 10 cigarettes.
But what really surprised him was the revelation that JUULing isn’t the harmless activity he believed it to be.
‘Nothing bad can happen’
“Cigarettes are totally disgusting garbage, but when it came to JUUL, [people thought], JUUL is perfect,” he told the Daily Mail. “There are no health repercussions, nothing bad can happen.”
Some studies have found that vaping flavored nicotine e-liquids can be just as detrimental to the cardiovascular system as conventional cigarettes. But the truth is, scientists have a long way to go before they truly understand the potential health hazards of vaping. Until then, it is irresponsible for JUUL, vape companies, and even health professionals to suggest that vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking.
Vaping: a cocktail of toxic chemicals
JUUL and other vape brands produce acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, and the weed-killing chemical acrolein, among other toxins. All of these can poison, sicken, and damage healthy lung tissue. Benzene, diacetyl, and traces of heavy metal in e-liquid flavorings are also known to cause lung disease and injury. When heated, JUUL pod flavorings emit toxic chemicals that aren’t disclosed on the labels, a recent study by Yale doctors found.
Chance is now pleading with others to quit vaping. “If you want to make me feel better DM me and tell me ur gonna quit,” Chance wrote on Instagram. Tell me UR not gonna let this take control of you. Not only are you losing so much money but your (sic) losing your life. I want to be an example so y’all don’t make the same stupid mistake I did …”
Since Chase shared his story about JUUL on Instagram, he has inspired dozens of others to quit vaping. Many shared videos of themselves throwing their JUUL away, destroying the pods with an ax, flushing them down the toilet, and even rolling over them with their car tires.
Other vapers reporting lung injuries, illnesses
Chance is far from alone in his experience with JUUL-related injuries.
Last week, doctors in Wisconsin confirmed several new cases of lung disease and injury associated with vaping. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said they are now looking into more than two dozen cases of lung problems in vapers of all ages, from teens to patients in their 50s.
Symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, cough and weight loss, and the severity of the symptoms ranges, with some patients needing assistance to breathe.
“We are continuing to interview patients so we can identify a possible cause,” said Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “All patients reported vaping prior to their hospitalization, but we don’t know all the products they used at this time.’
The Illinois Department of Public Health also is investigating the cases of three young people that required hospitalization for severe breathing problems they developed after vaping.
Have you or your kids been affected by JUUL?
Beasley Allen lawyers Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett are currently representing several individuals who are suing JUUL for the negative impact its products have had on their lives. Most of the plaintiffs became addicted to JUUL as minors and some of them have started smoking regular cigarettes to satisfy their nicotine addiction when JUUL pods aren’t accessible.