Over the past few months the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has become aware of an increase in the number of cases of acute (sudden onset) lung diseases among previously-healthy users of “electronic vaporizers,” aka “e-cigarettes” or “vapes.” Although there appears to be a “product/disease” association, the medical community has yet to identify the agent that is behind that pattern.
In today’s post the defective consumer product lawyer at The Doan Law Firm explains what is currently known about vaping-associated lung disease and then offers a review of the legal issues that could arise if it is determined that vaping liquids are found to have been responsible for this condition.
What is vaping-associated lung disease?
“Vaping-associated lung disease” is the “unofficial” term for what appears to be an unusually large number of cases of lung disease where a common factor seems to be the use of “e-cigarettes” and similar products collectively known as “vapes” or “vapers.” The general characteristics of this condition seem to be:
Gradual onset of symptoms that may include persistent cough, difficulty breathing after brief exercise, chest pain, and/or nausea
Primarily seen in teenagers and young adults
Associated with the use of “vaping” products
The type of lung disease is varied, with no one type of underlying pathology that is considered as “typical” of this condition. The victim’s chest x-ray or CT scan is often abnormal, but the findings on those exams are varied. The victim’s white blood count is often high, indicating that an inflammatory process is occurring. In most cases the condition slowly resolves with close medical care and observation, but there are cases reported that have required extended hospitalization. As of September 15th, six deaths have been attributed to this condition.
Why are there so many new cases of lung disease?
Even the CDC admits that it doesn’t know why there has been a “spike” in vaping-related lung disease. According to early (and admittedly incomplete) data, the CDC speculates that some of these new cases could be due to some substance that has only recently entered the production process of the liquids that are vaporized in the devices’ heating chamber prior to their being inhaled by the user. One such substance that is being investigated is vitamin E acetate, which is used to increase the viscosity (“thickness”) of the vaping liquid without affecting its taste or aroma.
Another possible cause for these new cases of lung disease is that the purity of the metals used in the vaporizers’ heating chamber may have somehow become contaminated and that these metallic vapors are being inhaled along with those produced by the liquid. However, health officials say this is extremely unlikely because the amount of metallic vapors produced would be so small, on the order of a nanogram (1 millionth of a milligram), as to be undetectable!
Regardless of the cause of this disease, if it is discovered that a toxic agent was used in a manufacturing process and that the manufacturer knew, or should have suspected, that their product could be responsible, the manufacturer could be held liable and ordered to pay damages to the victims of this disease.
Do you suspect your lung disease is due to vaping? Contact a vaping injury lawyer!
Even if the cause of vaping-associated lung disease is still not established, if you have used these products and have been diagnosed with lung disease you may have a potential legal claim against the manufacturer of the product and, possibly, the business that sold you that product. However, to protect your legal right to receive compensation, you will need to discuss the specific facts of your case with an experienced defective consumer products and personal injury lawyer. One such lawyer can be found at The Doan Law Firm, a national law practice with offices located throughout the country.
When you contact our firm, you case review and first consultation with our staff are always free of charge and do not obligate you to hire us as your legal counsel. After speaking with our staff, should you decide that a lawsuit is in order and that you would like for us to represent you in court, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.