Besides findings of vitamin E acetate and lipoid pneumonia, there are several other potential effects of vaping essential oils.
“Lung disease is the big one. Asthma, throat injury, bronchitis, and the newly defined disease EVALI are all included in the potential effects of inhaling oils,” Mahmood said.
The harmful effects of vaping are widely known; however, teens and adults alike are unaware of the potential side effects oils can have and, due to the lack of regulations and age restrictions, these oil pens are widely available for people of all ages to purchase.
“I honestly wasn’t even looking for [the oil pens] at all. I was scrolling through Amazon, and they just popped up at the top of my screen,” Smith said.
One's exposure to the products via the Internet, as well as the misleading descriptions of the devices, can catch consumers off guard and make them believe the products are beneficial.
“I heard they are FDA approved since there aren’t any addictive substances in it, so I think they’re safe. I mean, you can never be sure, but I trust the product,” Smith said.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Vaping, in general, isn’t regulated well, and the restrictions for essential oil pens are entirely non-existent.
“That's part of the problem driving the current spate of illnesses,” said Sara Miller, the Health Editor at NBC News. “Essential oils seem to fall into a weird regulatory realm too. It seems like as long as companies are claiming the oils cure or treat medical conditions, they’re okay to sell.”
Some may ponder why the FDA hasn't taken any action to regulate the sales of these essential oil pens. According to Mahmood, the answer is simple: profit.
As there is no solid proof concerning the impacts of vaping essential oils yet, the FDA sees no reason to manage the sale of them. Anyone can buy them on Amazon and use them wherever and whenever they choose.
According to Melanie Carver, the vice president of Community Health Services for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the aromatherapy device uses heat to vaporize the oils which are being dispensed through the pen. While these oils are being vaporized, they will almost always turn into volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are universally known to be extremely hazardous.
Some VOCs are carcinogenic, while others can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. As these oils heat up, they can also turn into tar, which is then delivered straight to the lungs.
These different components leave no question concerning the dangers of the pens.