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The lung damage in some people who have become ill after vaping nicotine or marijuana products resembles a chemical burn, doctors from the Mayo Clinic reported on Wednesday.
They do not know whether the source is the liquids being vaped, or a toxin released from the materials used to make vaping devices. It is also unclear whether some devices used in vaping may be defective
"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," said Dr. Brandon T. Larsen, a surgical pathologist at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"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."
Dr. Larsen likened the injuries to those seen in people exposed to poisons like mustard gas, a chemical weapon used in World War I.