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Majority of vaping-related lung disease patients in Wisconsin reported using devices to inhale THC products

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Mark Hoashi is the founder and CEO of Doja and part of his job is testing vape cartridges for his app.

He sends what he finds to certified labs in California.

The results have come back with pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, and heavy metals like lead. He says there was a also a chemical called Myclobutanil which has turned up -- something which can become carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide when heated and vaporized. 

"These are kids voluntarily inhaling this stuff," said Hoashi. "It's really, really harmful.

Vaping advocates point to e-cigarettes as alternatives to smoking real cigarettes.

Some of them say that by declaring all vaping unsafe, smokers will be discouraged from making the switch.

The American Lung Association hasn't found e-cigs to be effective in quitting smoking. Juul is one of the more well-known non-THC vape products.

They have a 5% and 3% nicotine concentration which a spokesperson says is a bit less than cigarettes.

There are brands that offer lower nicotine levels as well.

The Lung Association says no matter what the brand, there are often other harmful chemicals besides nicotine, including formaldehyde. 

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- The majority of patients with severe lung disease who reported vaping say they have used e-cigarettes or other vaping devices to inhale THC products like waxes and oils, Wisconsin health officials announced Thursday.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says they are currently investigating 32 confirmed and probable cases. Fourteen counties now have cases, including Dane, Dodge, Door, Green, Kenosha, La Crosse, Milwaukee, Portage, Racine, Sauk, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, and Winnebago. No deaths have been reported in Wisconsin. 

A case is defined as a person who had a history of vaping and developed severe lung disease, and did not have an infection or other causes for their illness. A probable case includes many of these factors and is likely to be confirmed, but more information is needed for confirmation. We continue to gather information from the 11 patients whose cases require further investigation.

THC is the active ingredient in marijuana. Health officials say 89% of the 27 cases they have interviewed so far reported using vaping devices to inhale THC products. The DHS says while most of the cases have reported vaping THC products, health officials are still trying to investigate all possible causes.  The connection to THC products is based on interviews with cases, and the state agency is working with the FDA to determine the contents of used vaping products.

“Vaping cartridges containing THC may include chemicals or additives that are unknown, unregulated, and unsafe,” said Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm in a release. “We strongly urge people not to vape.”

Health officials say the investigation is ongoing and they are working with the FDA and CDC. DHS says the CDC is coordinating a national response to nearly 200 illnesses in at least 22 other states. 

Anyone experiencing unexplained shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, nausea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss should talk to their doctor. People can learn more about e-cigarettes and vaping products—including what they look like, their health risks for youth, and how to talk to kids about them—at tobaccoischanging.com. There are FDA-approved medications to help tobacco users quit. Call 1-800-QUIT NOW for free help.

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