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Is the real cause of vaping illnesses vitamin E acetate? Ingredient under scrutiny by New York State officials

According to health officials in New York State, lab tests have found high levels of vitamin E acetate in vape samples connected with cases of illness.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Hundreds of people have fallen ill in cases across the country that are believed to be connected to vaping, and now health officials in New York State say they are looking closer at vitamin E acetate.  

In a press release Thursday, the New York State Department of Health revealed some of their initial findings from laboratory tests of vape samples, including samples of vape products used by individuals who have become sick.  

The state has received some 34 reports of pulmonary illness. In all of those cases, the individual used at least one cannabis-containing vape product.

Test results showed "very high levels of vitamin E acetate in nearly all cannabis-containing samples," the release said.

Marijuana is not legal in New York State, so the state said all of the products were sold on the black market. Vitamin E acetate was not found in nicotine-based products.

Vitamin E acetate is the same chemical that can be purchased in drugstores and grocery stores over the counter. It is not known to cause problems when ingested as a capsule or rubbed on the skin, but New York officials believe that inhaling it by vaping is different.  

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"As a result, vitamin E acetate is now a key focus of the Department's investigation of potential causes of vaping-associated pulmonary illness," the agency said.

The FDA is also performing its own laboratory tests on more than 100 samples, and in a statement to WFAA, an official said that more research is required before any conclusions can be drawn.

"More information is needed to better understand whether there's a relationship between any specific products or substances and the reported illnesses," wrote Michael Felberbaum. "Not one substance, including Vitamin E acetate, has been identified in all of the samples tested. Importantly, identifying any compounds that are present in the samples will be one piece of the puzzle but will not necessarily answer questions about causality."

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