Dank Vapes, TKO and other THC vaping brands linked to illnesses, CDC says

click to enlarge A man uses a vaporizer in Denver, Sept. 13, 2019. The number of people with lung illnesses linked to vaping has risen to 805, from last week’s figure of 530 cases, and 12 people have died, compared to a total of seven last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Sept. 26. - THEO STROOMER/THE NEW YORK TIMES
Theo Stroomer/The New York Times
A man uses a vaporizer in Denver, Sept. 13, 2019. The number of people with lung illnesses linked to vaping has risen to 805, from last week’s figure of 530 cases, and 12 people have died, compared to a total of seven last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Sept. 26.
By Denise Grady
The New York Times Company

Vaping cartridges containing THC and labeled “Dank Vapes,” as well as some other illicit brands, are linked to the severe lung disease that has recently emerged among people who use vaping devices and e-cigarettes to inhale THC or nicotine, or both, health officials said Friday.

But they also said Dank Vapes appeared to be a label that THC sellers can slap on any product and is not a specific formulation or a single product. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

“Dank Vapes appears to be the most prominent in a class of largely counterfeit brands, with common packaging that is easily available online and that is used by distributors to market THC-containing cartridges with no obvious centralized production or distribution,” said a report published Friday by state health officials from Illinois and Wisconsin, and from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new information comes from researchers’ interviews with 86 people in Illinois and Wisconsin who had become ill after vaping. About 87% of those patients had vaped THC cartridges purchased from “informal sources” during the three months before they got sick, and 57 had used Dank Vapes. Other THC brands named included Moon Rocks, Off White and TKO.


In Illinois and Wisconsin, among the patients who reported vaping nicotine, Juul was by far the dominant brand.

The CDC held a briefing Friday to discuss some of the findings in the health investigations of vaping illnesses that have now been reported in 46 states, involving 805 cases and 13 deaths. Oregon reported a second death Thursday; state health officials said the person was hospitalized with respiratory symptoms after vaping cannabis products.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, called the lung illnesses “serious and life-threatening.” She described the marketplace for vaping products as dynamic and said there was a large array of products, ingredients, packaging and supply chains, and consumers have no way of knowing just what is in the liquids they are vaping.

Many of the patients throughout the United States had reported using THC products, the agency said. Some patients have said they vaped only nicotine, but the Wisconsin researchers found that some patients who made that claim actually had used THC.


Of 771 patients nationwide, 91% had been hospitalized.

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