How does lipoid pneumonia lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)?

The vaping illnesses that have been happening on the news in the United States are being caused by the federal prohibition on marijuana. Smugglers will legally go to recreational marijuana dispensaries in legal states and purchase cartridges that contain about a gram of "wax". Proper cartridges will use polyethylene glycol, polypropylene glycol, or vegetable glycerin to suspend the THC for vaporizing, but the smugglers have been known to open up the tank and remove some of the wax and refill the remaining volume with Vitamin E Oil. These tampered cartridges are then sold on the black market to recreational and medical consumers in illegal states.

The CDC Report: "Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products"

Edit: So, I was on some conspiracy shtuff when I wrote this post because I was worried about impurities in my vapes killing me. I don't want to take this down because I want my cognitive distortion to remain visible as a reminder of how we can succumb to biased reasoning. Also, the answer I marked correct contextualized the fragmented information of which I was aware and attempted to give me an improved framework for understanding the terms I was using incorrectly as a layman.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE! This appears to be a reasonable question, but the inclusion of unsubstantiated or irrelevant claims detracts from this. Specifically, the entire middle of your post seems to be a distraction from the biology. Instead, please summarize the relevant information from the CDC report and add any other relevant information you can find about ARDS and lipoid pneumonia (with references from reliable sources). ——— Please also take the tour and then go through the help pages starting with How to Ask questions effectively on this site and edit your question accordingly. Thanks! 😊 $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    Dec 16, 2019 at 7:45

1 Answer 1


There are several ways to get ARDS (sepsis, pneumonia, trauma, pancreatitis, etc). Pathophysiologically, they all converge at alveolar insult. So however it happens, there's alveolar insult, cytokine release that recruits neutrophils, and the activated neutrophils release toxic mediators that destroy the alveolar membranes. So for your question specifically, the mineral oil in the vape cartridges (theoretically) is instigating an inflammatory reaction that destroys alveolar membranes.


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