How do I know if I have a Lung Injury from Vaping?
A Lung Injury caused by vaping is more commonly referred to as “EVALI, which stands for E-cigarette or Vaping Associated Lung Injury. EVALI results when a consumer has inflammation in the lungs caused by inhaling harmful substances as a result of using an electronic drug delivery systems (EDDS), more commonly referred to as a “vape pen.” Medical conditions such as pneumonia, damage to alveoli (lung sacs), fibrinous pneumonitis, bronchitis, asthma, COPD, and even lung cancer have been associated with EVALI. Most often, patients with EVALI start off with a gradual progression of symptoms, which can include a persistent cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, or chest pains. However, typically in EVALI cases, these symptoms do not resolve without medical intervention. Some EVALI cases can result in permanent injury, such as hard-metal lung disease, or even death.
I thought vaping was supposed to be safe, so how can vaping result in Lung Injury?
Vaping can result in EVALI in a number of ways including as a result of poor extraction methods, tainted e-liquid cartridges, and exposing the consumer to heavy metals such as chromium, cadmium, cobalt, and lead.
How can I be exposed to heavy metals while vaping?
Vape pens are electronic devices that produce an aerosol by heating a liquid (e-liquid) containing nicotine or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The e-liquid is put into a plastic or glass cartridge that is used in conjunction with the vape pen. Vape pens use a battery-supplied electric current that passes through a metal coil to heat the e-liquid containing cartridge, which creates an aerosol. When a consumer draws on the vape pen, the air intake holes on the device activate the battery which in turn ignites a wick in the cartridge causing its contents to heat into an aerosol. Consumers inhale this aerosol into their lungs, which is commonly referred to as “vaping.”
Vape pen hardware can introduce heavy metals into a cartridge in the vape pen containing e-liquid. Such exposure to heavy metals occurs as a result of a process known as “leaching.” Leaching is a process whereby soluble heavy metals that may be present in the hardware of a vape pen dissolve into the formulation contained in the e-liquid cartridge over time. Studies have shown that this leaching of heavy metals in vape pen hardware stems from both the heating coils found in vape pens as well as the battery compartments of vape pens.
According to a February 21, 2018 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives by scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, heating coils from vape pens, which are typically made out of nickel and chromium, are leaking or leaching toxic metals into the vape pen cartridge containing liquid nicotine or THC. Vaping THC raises the risk of this leaching of hard metals, because the heating coils must be heated to much higher temperatures to aerosolize THC than to aerosolize nicotine. Prior research has shown that a greater amount of toxic substances are released as the voltage needed to heat vape devices increases. As a result, heavy metals can enter the e-liquid cartridge and be inhaled by the consumer.
A consumer can also be exposed to heavy metals from the battery compartment of a vape pen. Heavy metals have been found in the electrodes of lithium polymer cells contained inside the battery compartment. Consumers are exposed to such heavy metals because inhalation-activated vape pens have air channels that open directly into the battery compartment. As a result, heavy metal solder and particles of metal oxides can readily enter the e-liquid cartridge and be inhaled by the consumer.
Is my potential exposure to hard metals through vaping a cause for concern?
Yes. Exposure to heavy metals through vaping can result in a consumer inhaling toxic metals such as chromium, cadmium, cobalt, and lead. Inhalation of these toxic heavy metals can permanently alter the cells of human lung tissue and result in conditions such as hard-metal lung disease, “cobalt” lung, “popcorn” lung, or various forms of pneumonia. While some of these conditions can be treated with long-term use of steroids as well as supplemental supplies of oxygen, such conditions may be permanent and require a lung transplant in order for the injured consumer to experience any long-term “cure” from their Lung Injury.
Can I sue the distributors of my vape pen and/or e-liquid cartridge if I have a Lung Injury that I believe was caused vaping? How does a vape lawsuit work?
If you have vaped cannabis and experienced symptoms associated with Lung Injury (including but not limited to: a persistent cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, or chest pains) and/or have been diagnosed with a pulmonary or Lung Injury (including but not limited to: pneumonia, hard-metal lung disease, cobalt lung, popcorn lung, damage to alveoli (lung sacs), fibrinous pneumonitis, asthma, bronchitis, COPD, and lung cancer), you should contact a law firm to discuss what options for legal recourse you may have. Please contact Ribera Law Firm at (415) 576-1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to schedule a free consultation to evaluate whether you may have a potential EVALI case.