Health department: THC cartridges ‘likely the driver’ of vaping-related lung illnesses in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Health released details Monday of its investigation into the recent outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses, saying THC cartridges are likely the main driver.

As of Monday, the department said 71 cases of vaping-related lung disease have been reported in the state. Of those, 36 have been interviewed for information on their symptoms and exposure — including which products they used.

Of those interviewed, 94 percent reported vaping THC (the main active ingredient of cannabis) and 64 percent reported vaping nicotine. Fifty-eight percent reported using both, 36 percent reported using only THC products and 6 percent reported using only nicotine.

The report stated that 35 percent of THC products were acquired through the user's friends, 33 percent were bought online, 20 percent were bought from in-person dealers and "a few" were purchased from out-of-state dispensaries.

"The Utah Department of Health recommends all Utah residents immediately stop vaping unregulated THC cartridges or “carts.” Unregulated vaping cartridges containing THC may contain chemicals or additives that are unknown and unsafe," the health department wrote.

The department also tested individual products supplied by patients — about half nicotine e-juices and half THC cartridges — and found that 90 percent of THC cartridges tested contained Vitamin E acetate, a known cutting agent. The department could not conclusively state that the substance was the direct cause of the outbreak. Testing also found that none of the nicotine cartridges showed unexpected compounds.

This story will be updated. The full report can be found on the department's website.

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