Mayo Clinic Says Lung Damage From Vaping Looks 'Like Mustard Gas' Injuries

The lung damage of some who have become ill after vaping nicotine and marijuana resemble chemical burns according to the Mayo Clinic and The New York Times.

The findings come from samples of lung tissue from seventeen patients. Samples were taken from 4 women and 13 men, ranging in age from 19 to 67. Of those, 70 percent had a history of vaping either marijuana or cannabis oils. Eleven were in Arizona, five in Minnesota and one in Florida.

"All 17 of our cases show a pattern of injury in the lung that looks like a toxic chemical exposure, a toxic chemical fume exposure or a chemical burn injury," Dr. Brandon T. Larsen, a surgical pathologist at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona said to the New York Times.

"To be honest, they look like the kind of change you would expect to see in an unfortunate worker in an industrial accident where a big barrel of toxic chemicals spills, and that person is exposed to toxic fumes and there is a chemical burn in the airways," Larsen continues. He said the damage is similar to those who have been exposed to chemical weapons like mustard gas.

So far, there have been 800 cases and rising of lung illnesses linked to vaping across America, with 16 dead. The majority of illnesses have been linked to vaping cannabis products, though some have been linked to nicotine.

The study fully disproves an earlier theory that victims may have been inhaling cannabis oils, which were then clogging lung tissue. But what was found were immune cells called macrophages which had taken on a foamy, white characteristic of chemical burns.

"So maybe we need to look more closely at the chemical compounds, and not just oils, but the chemical constituents, to figure out which ones are injurious," Dr. Larsen said.

Dr. Larsen added that it was too soon to determine if survivors of vaping-related lung illnesses would ever fully recover.

"Based on the severity of injury we see, at least in some of these cases, I wouldn't be surprised if we wind up with people down the road having chronic respiratory problems from this. Some seem to recover. I don't think we know what the long-term consequences will be."

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: In this photo illustration, a man smokes an E-Cigarette at the V-Revolution E-Cigarette shop in Covent Garden on August 27, 2014 in London, England. A CDC report says that lung damage in a samples of 14 of the 771 people who have been sickened by vaping resembles damage done to the lungs of those who have inhaled chemical weapons. Dan Kitwood/Getty

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified the brand names of THC-related products in pre-filled cartridges on Friday. Dank Vapes, Moon Rocks, Off White and TKO were named by victims in Wisconsin and Illinois as brands that they'd used before becoming ill.

CDC officials added that "Dank Vapes was not an actual brand, but just a label and packaging that anyone selling THC vaping liquid could buy and stick on a product."

With new deaths reported in Nebraska, Virginia and New Jersey, the death toll has risen to 16. Many of those who died had underlying illnesses and were older.

According to CDC reports, of the 771 patients involved in the outbreak, 91 percent had been hospitalized, 69 percent of those ill were male and just over 60 percent were between the ages of 18 and 34. Of the known deaths at the time of the CDC report, 60 percent of the dead were men, and the median age was 50 years old.

The findings can be read in The New England Journal of Medicine, where they were published on Tuesday.

Mayo Clinic Says Lung Damage From Vaping Looks 'Like Mustard Gas' Injuries | Health