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  • As of September 24, 805 possible vape-related respiratory illness cases have been reported from 46 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement. Twelve have resulted in death.
  • The ingredients in nicotine-containing vapes vary based on the flavor and brand.
  • Certain chemicals, like propylene glycol, have popped up in multiple vape illness cases.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more.

As a spate of mysterious vaping-related illnesses pop up around the United States, health officials continue to investigate ingredients in both THC and nicotine-containing devices in an attempt to determine why hundreds of people have been hospitalized after vaping.

As of September 24, 805 possible vape-related respiratory illness cases have been reported from 46 states, the Centers for Diseae Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement. Twelve of those cases have resulted in death.

“We don’t yet know the exact cause of these illnesses — whether they’re caused by contaminants, ingredients in the liquid or something else, such as the device itself,” Dr. Ann Thomas, a public health physician with the Oregon Health Authority, said on September 3 after the first person in the state died from a vape-related illness.

Read more: Black market marijuana vapes containing substances like alcohol and caffeine may be to blame for spate of mysterious lung illnesses

The ingredients in nicotine-containing vapes vary based on the flavor and brand, which has made tracking down an exact culprit for vape-related illnesses a difficult task for the FDA and CDC.

There are certain chemicals, like the oils used to suspend nicotine in vape juices, that have popped up in multiple vape illness cases. Here are the chemicals in nicotine vapes you should be aware of, along with their health risks.

Propylene glycol is a suspension ingredient that helps turn nicotine into an aerosolized form users inhale.

dank vapes Research has shown propylene glycol can enter a person’s bloodstream if they inhale it. AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease, the FDA says propylene glycol is “generally recognized as safe” when used in food, and the chemical is also used to create fog in fog machines and antifreeze.

Research has shown propylene glycol can enter a person’s bloodstream if they inhale it, but it breaks down after 48 hours.

If a person is consistently exposed to the chemical, however, it could lead to skin or lung irritation, depending on where the chemical interacts with the body.

Vegetable glycerin, like propylene glycol, is a suspension ingredient in e-liquids.

vegetable oil The gut can handle vegetable oil. The lungs, not so much. Wikimedia Commons

Professor Thomas Eissenberg at the Virginia Commonwealth University Center for the Study of Tobacco Products previously told Insider he believes suspension oils like vegetable glycerin are a major culprit for vaping-related illnesses like lipoid pneumonia, a condition where liquid oil droplets get into the lung because they didn’t completely vaporize. When that liquid builds up, it can cause pneumonia.

In a 2018 BMJ case report, a 34-year-old British woman who’d been vaping for three years developed lipoid pneumonia and respiratory failure. In another case, published in 2012,  a 42-year-old woman was prescribed antibiotics multiple times for her pneumonia before doctors finally told her to stop using e-cigarettes. When she did so, her condition improved.

Read more: Mysterious vaping illnesses are causing life-threatening lung injuries and death. Here’s what we know about the people who have been affected so far.

“Vegetable glycerin is derived from vegetable oil, and to the extent that the derivation process is not complete, vegetable oil could be getting into the liquid,” Eissenberg previously told Insider. “If that’s the case, we may be seeing not the last cluster of lipoid pneumonia, but rather the first.”

More: Features Health Vaping Nicotine

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