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Scary New Find Made in Bootleg Vapes

NBC test sample turns up hydrogen cyanide
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2019 3:25 PM CDT
In this Dec. 22, 2018 file photo, a woman takes a puff from a cannabis vape pen in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
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(Newser) – Not what anyone needs to be smoking: cyanide. As America's vaping crisis continues, 10 unregulated vaping cartridges have tested positive for pesticides—including a fungicide that can turn into hydrogen cyanide if burned, NBC News reports. "You certainly don't want to be smoking cyanide," says Antonio Frazier, VP operations at CannaSafe, which conducted the tests. "I don't think anyone would buy a cart that was labeled hydrogen cyanide on it." Pediatric pulmonologist Melodi Pirzada says the fungicide, called myclobutanil, is "going to cause a very toxic effect on the lungs." She also calls the rise of lung illnesses linked to vape pens "a new epidemic."

Indeed, the CDC reports that 12 people have died and 805 received medical treatment across 46 states with such illnesses. Nearly 70% are male, nearly two thirds between the ages of 18 and 34, and all "have a history of e-cigarette product use or vaping." So NBC News commissioned the testing of 18 vaping cartridges, both legal and unregulated, and found the legal products clear of pesticides, heavy metals, or Vitamin E acetate (which officials say is used to "cut" cannabis in vape pens and might be causing the outbreak). But 13 of 15 unlicensed cartridges did contain Vitamin E, and 10 of them tested specifically for pesticides came up positive—including for myclobutanil. (See how the vaping crisis played out in Congress this week.)

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