Researchers and doctors are concerned those who vape marijuana may come down with a rare illness that usually only affects workers who are exposed to metal.
A 49-year-old former dog trainer began using a marijuana vape pen but only six months later was diagnosed with hard-metal pneumoconiosis, otherwise known as giant cell interstitial pneumonia or cobalt lung.
The dog trainer reported smoking off and on throughout her formative years, but was otherwise in good health at the time she started vaping marijuana. The woman stopped working as a dog trainer after she started having difficulty breathing, had developed a cough, and was wheezing.
Both she and a team of medical professionals were perplexed with the cobalt lung diagnosis, as it is typically only seen occurring with those who work with or around metal– tool sharpeners, those who polish diamonds, or make dental prosthetics. The frequency of this happening is due to the inhalation of mineral dust caused by metal grinding.
A case study on the woman appeared in the European Respiratory Journal on December 5, 2019. Researchers found there were “significant levels” of metal in the juice she was vaping that supporting the diagnosis, such as cobalt, nickel, aluminum, manganese, lead, and chromium. It appears she was inhaling metal with every puff.
According to the Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, chronic exposure to cobalt dust can cause “an obstructive lung disease with wheezing, cough, and shortness of breath. Chronic respiratory exposure results in reduced lung function, increased fibrotic changes on chest X-ray, production of scanty mucoid sputum, and shortness of breath.”
It’s important to note, her lung tissue looks different than other respiratory vaping illnesses that have been the cause of dozens of deaths and thousands of illness. Vaping lung injuries have been reported in all 50 states. For detailed information on vaping lung illness, click here.
The study hypothesizes the metal found in the juice she was vaping leached from heating the coil of the vape pen, and inhaled into the lungs. This is slightly different than vaping non-THC liquid. This is due to the fact that in order to aerosolize THC, a vape pen or coil has to be heated to a much higher temperature than regular nicotine liquid. The higher the temperature, the more likely it is to release toxic substances.
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If you or a loved one have suffered suffered lung illness from e-cigarettes or vape devices, you may want to speak with the lawyers at Johnson//Becker. We are currently accepting new e-cigarette lawsuits across the country, and you may be entitled to financial compensation.
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