Health officials are looking into whether vitamin E acetate is to blame for a rash of vaping-related illnesses. Officials have found the chemical in samples of marijuana products used by people sickened in different parts of the country.
In reporting on this story, The Washington Post turned to Bryn Mawr Professor of Chemistry Michelle Francl.
From the Post:
Vaping frequently involves heating a liquid that can contain nicotine, marijuana or other drugs and inhaling the vapor.
Vitamin E acetate is basically grease, said Michelle Francl, a chemistry professor at Bryn Mawr College. Its molecular structure means that "you have to heat it up pretty hot" for it to vaporize. Its boiling point is 363 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the oil is heated enough to vaporize, it can potentially decompose, and "now you're breathing in who-knows-what," Francl said.
When that vapor cools down in the lungs, it returns to its original state at that temperature and pressure, she said, which means "it has now coated the inside of your lungs with that oil," she said.
Washington Post subscribers can read the full article online.