As dozens of people across the United States have come down with vape-related lung injuries, health experts are pointing the finger at vape pens and counterfeit vape cartridges. Specifically, consumers are being encouraged to think carefully about what exactly their vape cartridges contain, how they were produced, and where they were purchased from.
By making people aware of the dangers of cartridge contaminants and counterfeit vape cartridges, authorities hope to prevent more vape-related lung injuries from occurring. Keep reading to find out more about possible contaminants, fake cartridges, and vape-induced lung injury.
What Exactly Is Inside A Vape Cartridge?
Properly manufactured vape pen cartridges contain either distillate oil or CO2 oil. CO2 oils retain modest levels of plant-based terpenes that give cartridges more of a natural, strain-specific taste. By comparison, distillate oils are much more thoroughly processed, removing terpenes in the process and leaving behind almost nothing but pure cannabinoids. When produced under proper regulations, both substances are completely safe for consumption. However, distillates are less viscous than CO2 oils and usually require the addition of some kind of thinning agent in order to make them more vape-able.
Vape Cartridge Additives: The Good and Bad
It is suspected that cutting agents commonly used in cartridges are responsible for the recent health crisis. These agents are used to enhance the amount of vapour produced, the mouthfeel of the vapour, and even the taste of the cartridge. While some of them are used in legitimate cartridges as well, it is impossible to know just how much of them are added to counterfeit cartridges. The process of using these additives was controversial even before the recent health crisis, however, it is now being much more heavily scrutinized.
The 4 most common additives found in vape cartridges are polyethylene glycol (PEG), propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), and vitamin E acetate.
A Postive – PEG
PEG is an agent that is commonly used to keep the contents of a cartridge evenly mixed. PG is a binding agent that is usually added in order to produce more even clouds of vapour, while VG is added in order to produce thicker vape clouds. Both PG and VG are commonly found in nicotine vape juices and are believed to be relatively safe for consumption.
A Negative – Vitamin E Acetate
Vitamin E acetate is a common food additive that is perfectly safe to ingest in the form of food or as a supplement (up to 1,000 mg per day). However, this oil is believed to be unsafe when inhaled. In the state of New York, the oil was found in nearly all cartridge samples taken from patients who had fallen ill after vaping. This has led researchers to focus on vitamin E additives as the cause of many recent vape-related injuries.
Additionally, to make matters worse, many counterfeits vape cartridges have also been found to contain traces of pesticides and heavy metals. While it has not yet been determined what role these contaminants play in vape sickness, they are still considered to be harmful when inhaled, and are believed to be much more common in counterfeit cartridges than legitimate ones.
Counterfeit Vape Cartridges
Along with the rise in popularity of vaping has come a rise in counterfeit vape cartridges. These cartridges may appear from a credible brand, however, they are produced in questionable conditions and may contain any number of harmful contaminants. Because these cartridges are bypassing local testing regulations, there is simply no way of knowing exactly what they contain without testing them in a lab.
It can oftentimes be difficult to tell if a cartridge is real or counterfeit. This is because counterfeit cartridges are often sold with the same branding, logos, and packaging as real cartridges. Some of North America’s most popular vape brands have fallen victim to counterfeiting, including Kingpen, Heavy Hitters, and Connected Cannabis.
What You Should Know as a Shopper
One way to ensure that your vape cartridges are not counterfeit is to purchase them from dependable and reputable retailers. You should avoid buying them from distributors that have a reputation for cutting corners and selling unreliable or unlicensed products.
You should also be suspicious of cartridges that are seriously underpriced. If the price of a cartridge is way below market price, you very well may be looking at a fake cartridge. Moreover, some brands may print serial numbers of QR codes on their products which can be looked up online in order to certify their legitimacy.
With all that said, if you have been purchasing your vape pens from reputable sites, we’re glad to say that you have avoided the crisis entirely. However, if you’ve gotten vape supplies from shoddy sources in the past, this article might be more relevant to you as ever.
Vape sickness can cause many symptoms. If you are experiencing shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, weakness, and fatigue after vaping, it is strongly recommended that you get checked out by a doctor.