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Pennsylvania Health Department warns against vaping weed

Pennsylvania is warning the public about the dangers of vaping, particularly using THC-containing products purchased illegally.

Cases of e-cigarette-related lung injury have rapidly increased in Pennsylvania, with 17 suspected cases and nearly 30 additional cases being investigated in the state. Victims have suffered serious lung injuries and been hospitalized.

No cases have been associated with medical marijuana bought at a Pennsylvania dispensary, according to the state Department of Health.

“It is essential that people who use e-cigarettes heed this warning, as their life could be at-risk,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Initial findings in Pennsylvania and across the country indicate patients were vaping illicit products, primarily recreational marijuana or other unregulated products with THC. Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program is carefully regulated, with products going through extensive laboratory testing.”

Most of the lung injury cases are male, and the average age is mid-20s. Vaping e-cigarettes containing nicotine of any kind is extremely dangerous for those with developing brains due to nicotine in the products, according to the Health Department. Lung injury cases have also been seen in older adults.

Signs and symptoms of a potential lung injury associated with vaping include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

Health officials urge citizens to see their health care provider if they or a loved one are showing signs or symptoms.

E-cigarette aerosol is not harmless “water vapor,” emphasized health officials. It can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including: nicotine and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs; flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease; volatile organic compounds; cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead.

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