• New research from Mayo Clinic says that vaping-related lung injuries are likely due to toxic chemical fumes.
  • The CDC has reported over 800 lung injuries associated with vaping or electronic cigarette use in the past several months; additionally, there have been 12 confirmed deaths related to these injuries.
  • Mayo Clinic researchers studied the lung biopsies of 17 patients with acute lung injury due to vaping, to better understand what is causing this severe damage.
  • They found that these injuries might be due to toxic chemical exposure, instead of fatty substances like oils which was thought to be a potential cause.
  • Researchers believe their study can help doctors to diagnose vaping-related lung injuries and they warn people who vape to be aware of the potential risks that come with vaping. 

Quick Summary

According to a new study from Mayo Clinic “Pathology of Vaping-Associated Lung Injury,” published in New England Journal of Medicine lung injuries from vaping might be due to toxic chemical fumes. 


Over the past several months, there have been more than 800 lung injury cases associated with vaping or electronic cigarette use reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There have also been 12 confirmed deaths in 10 states related to these lung injuries. This study sought to explore why these smoking devices are causing such severe lunch damage.


Researchers studied the lung biopsies of 17 patients who had acute lung injury from vaping, which was believed to be from vaping (this was the first study to look at a specific group of people with lung damage associated with vaping). All of these subjects vaped, while 71% had vaped with marijuana or cannabis oils. 

Two of these individuals were Mayo Clinic patients, while the others were from different hospitals across the country. Additionally, two of these patients died from their injuries.


After studying the lung biopsies, the research team found zero evidence of injury caused by the “accumulation of lipids” or fatty substances like oils, which was thought to be a potential cause of vaping-related lung injuries. They instead saw that injury might be due to toxic chemical exposure. They compare these injuries to those caused by poisonous gases and other toxic compounds.


Researchers aren’t surprised by these findings. The statement by their senior author says that they’ve observed a handful of cases like these over the past couple years, but now there is a spike in lung injury due to vaping. 

The statement concludes that this study provides a detailed review of what these lung biopsies look like in individuals suffering as a result of vaping. Researchers believe it can help doctors to diagnose vaping-related lung injuries. And they warn vapers that vaping does come with potential risks—even life-threatening ones.


  • This is the first study of its kind; additional research into the effects of vaping is necessary to best understand vaping-related lunch damage.


Butt, Y. M., Smith, M. L., et al (2019, October 2). Pathology of Vaping-Associated Lung Injury. The New England Journal of Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMc1913069

Mayo Clinic. (2019, October 2). Vaping-associated lung injury may be caused by toxic chemical fumes, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 10, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191002181133.htm