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UNITED STATES

Contamination may be linked to e-cig illnesses

09 Sep 2019. Investigators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have found the same chemical in a number of samples of marijuana products used by patients who fell ill across the country, MSN News reported.

A state health department spokeswoman said that the chemical which is an oil derived from vitamin E was found in many of the cannabis samples from patients who fell ill in New York in recent weeks, according to the report.

Vitamin E is found naturally in foods such as olive oil and almonds and the oil derived from the vitamin is also found in nutritional supplements and topical skin products which is labelled as vitamin E acetate. It is not known to cause problems when consumed as a vitamin supplement or when topically applied to the skin, the report said. Experts warned that its molecular structure and oil-like properties could be dangerous when inhaled, MSN News reported. These characteristics are associated with the kinds of respiratory symptoms that a number of patients have reported such as cough, shortness of breath and chest pain, the official were reported as saying.

“We knew from earlier testing by New York that they had found vitamin E acetate, but to have FDA talk about it from their overall testing plan, that was the most remarkable thing that we heard,’’ said one official who was not authorised to speak publicly, the report said. The FDA analysed 12 viable nicotine samples and 18 viable THC products, state officials said. Vitamin E acetate was found in 10 of the 18 THC products.

The FDA also stated that its lab tests found nothing unusual in nicotine products that had been collected from sick patients, according to another source, MSN News reported. At the end of August, there had been 215 possible cases reported from 25 states.

“FDA is analysing samples for a broad range of chemicals, including nicotine, THC, other cannabinoids, ‘cutting agents’ that may be used to dilute liquids, other additives, pesticides, opioids, poisons and toxins,” MSN News wrote.