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Cases of poisoning from inadmissible synthetic cannabinoids in e-cigarettes
After severe lung diseases and multiple deaths in “vapors” occurred in the USA, the health risks of e-cigarettes have come into focus. Poisoning caused by the use of e-cigarettes has also been reported in Germany. These are probably the result of the inadmissible use of synthetic cannabinoids in e-liquids.
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has published an opinion on possible health risks that arise from the use of e-cigarettes. The background is media reports in which poisonings of eight young people in Bremerhaven were reported, which were attributed to the use of e-cigarettes.
Poisoning cases in Germany
After the death of several “steamers” due to severe lung diseases in the USA, the BfR had pointed out in December that so far no life-threatening danger from “steaming” has occurred in this country.
However, cases of poisoning also occurred in Germany, which were attributed to the use of e-cigarettes. Around eight young people who had poisoned themselves in Bremerhaven in October 2019.
The teenagers suffered from seizures, impaired consciousness and memory as well as fainting and rapid heartbeat.
According to a preliminary assessment by the BfR, the symptoms are very likely due to the improper use of synthetic cannabinoids in e-liquids.
Deaths in the United States
According to media reports, the adolescents said they had smoked cannabidiol (CBD). As the BfR explains, CBD is a weakly psychoactive cannabinoid.
A year earlier, CBD liquids that had been manipulated with psychoactive cannabinoids had appeared in the United States.
According to the information, users had suffered from the same complaints as the young people in Bremerhaven.
Both incidents agree well in terms of symptoms - also in that no respiratory symptoms occurred, in contrast to the deaths registered in the United States.
Possibly mixed with herbal mixtures
According to the current state of knowledge, the poisoning cases in Bremerhaven are based on other psychoactive synthetic cannabinoids. Some of the liquids concerned were purchased in tobacco shops. The BfR has no information about the origin of the cannabinoid-containing liquids.
According to the institute, it would also be possible that the e-liquids used in Bremerhaven were mixed with so-called incense or herbal mixtures. These are mixtures that can contain synthetic cannabinoids such as 5F-ADB, Cumyl-PeGaClone or 5FCumyl-P7AICA and are improperly smoked.
Synthetic cannabinoids could also have been introduced into the liquids in another form, for example as crystals or solids.
Increased health risks due to improper use
The poisoning in Bremerhaven can only be assessed to a limited extent due to the limited information available. According to the BfR, further information is required for the toxicological risk assessment, especially regarding the products, additives and devices used.
As the institute explains, there is currently no evidence that the e-cigarette as an application form itself triggered or aggravated the symptoms of intoxication. In principle, however, both nicotine-containing and nicotine-free e-cigarettes affect health.
It is also problematic that e-cigarettes are increasingly used for the consumption of physiologically effective, psychoactive substances and possibly also other drugs. Improper use can result in increased health risks. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.