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Vaping-related lung damage resembles mustard gas injuries
The safest bet is to listen to health officials and avoid vaping products.
- American health officials have so far recorded more than 1,000 vaping-related hospitalizations, and at least 18 people have died.
- These cases seem to be linked to black-market vaping products, not mainstream ones available in stores.
- The results of the new report suggest that it's the chemical compounds within the vaping products — not the oil itself — that's causing hospitalizations.
Update Wednesday, November 20, 2019: Since March, vaping-related illness has landed over 2,000 individuals in hospitals nationwide, and at least 39 of those people have died.
Health officials have so far recorded about 1,080 cases of vaping-related lung injuries in the U.S., according to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention. At least 18 people have died across 15 states, and concern (and in some cases hysteria) continues to grow over the health effects of vaping. Still, it remains unclear exactly what part or chemical in vaping products is harming people, and no single product or ingredient has been linked to the hospitalizations (although some cases have been traced back to black-market vaping cartridges).
Last week, researchers at Mayo Clinic published a report in the New England Journal of Medicine describing the lung damage in some of these cases. The researchers — experts in lung pathology who examined lung tissue samples from 17 patients around the U.S. — said the tissue looked like it had suffered chemical burns, or even exposure to poisons like mustard gas, a chemical weapon from World War I.
"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, Ariz., told 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."
Image source: Larsen et al., New England Journal of Medicine
Larsen and his colleagues reported finding cell death and tissue damage in the airways, and within the lungs. This damage causes tissues to swell as the body tries to repair itself, but that swelling makes it difficult or impossible to breathe.
"The lung is not very functional when it's been damaged and is trying to repair itself," Larsen said. "There's no reserve left while the body tries to heal itself, so people will be really sick, on a ventilator because they can't get enough oxygen in, or carbon dioxide out […] Some patients will not recover, and will end up dying."
The results suggest that it's the chemical compounds within vape juice — and not necessarily the oils (vitamin E acetate, for example) – that are damaging the lungs. Of the 17 patients examined, all had vaped, and 12 had vaped marijuana or cannabis oils.
"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," Larsen told the Times.
The myriad of vaping products, both legal and illegal, makes it difficult to know what's going on.
"One of the problems with vaping is that there's so many products and materials and substances in the market," Larsen said in a video published by Mayo Clinic. "With tobacco, there was only one culprit, and so it was very easy to get a good sense of exactly what the acute and long-term changes were on the lung from doing that. [...] The same is true with marijuana smoking, in the traditional sense. It's a single substance, and the types of changes are relatively predictable over time. But the sky's the limit with vaping."
For now, the safest bet is to listen to health officials and avoid vaping products, the researchers said.
Ever since we've had the technology, we've looked to the stars in search of alien life. It's assumed that we're looking because we want to find other life in the universe, but what if we're looking to make sure there isn't any?
Here's an equation, and a rather distressing one at that: N = R* × fP × ne × f1 × fi × fc × L. It's the Drake equation, and it describes the number of alien civilizations in our galaxy with whom we might be able to communicate. Its terms correspond to values such as the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of planets on which life could emerge, the fraction of planets that can support intelligent life, and so on. Using conservative estimates, the minimum result of this equation is 20. There ought to be 20 intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way that we can contact and who can contact us. But there aren't any.
Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.
- Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
- One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
- "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.