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St. Petersburg woman blames lung illness on vaping

A Bay Area woman was released from the hospital Tuesday after she came down with a serious illness she believes is the result of vaping.

Madison Massey, 20, said she started feeling sick Sept. 9. Antibiotics didn’t work so she checked herself into Bayfront Health in St. Petersburg early Saturday morning.

“I felt like I had so much pressure on my chest that I coudln’t move and I was shaking. I had a really high fever,” she said.

Massey said doctors ran a series of tests and diagnosed her with chemical pneumonia.

“It hurts. It’s painful. It’s really scary to have doctors say that you could have passed away this week,” Massey told FOX 13. “I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through because it was very painful and very rough.”

Massey said she’s been using JUUL devices to vape for three years and believes her vaping habit caused her pneumonia, which kept her in the hospital for three nights.

Her case would be among the more than 450 lung illnesses tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The American Vaping Association has pushed back against claims that e-cigarette products are not safe.

According to the AVA’s website, “evidence continues to indicate that poorly manufactured street vapes containing THC or other substances are to blame for these illnesses.”

Massey said that’s not what happened in her case.

“I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘Oh, you’re smoking THC cartridges.’ I don’t. I don’t smoke THC. It’s strictly JUUL,” she said.

FOX 13 Medical Reporter Dr. Joette Giovinco said pulmonary specialists believe chemical pneumonia can be caused by vaping products.

“It’s very plausible because, you have to think about this, not only are those chemicals that they know that they’re putting in those cartridges going into her airways and into her lungs, but we don’t know what other chemicals may be formed when it hits the heat,” said Dr. Jo. “It may be a combination of things and it may be different types of lung reactions that we’re seeing depending on what it is that they have inhaled.”

In a statement to FOX 13, a spokesperson for JUUL said:

“We take product safety seriously, which is why we have implemented industry-leading quality controls and appropriately label our products with ingredient disclosures and health warnings. Our device and manufacturing facilities are subject to numerous quality and certification standards and we conduct extensive preclinical and toxicological testing of the ingredients and analytes in JUUL e-liquids and aerosols. Our testing is conducted through reputable, independent third-party laboratories, and shared with relevant regulatory bodies.

We are also aggressively enforcing our intellectual property rights against manufacturers of counterfeit and pod-compatible vapor products who flood the market with unauthorized and unregulated items. These products, often marketed in violation of FDA laws, regulations, and policies, represent a pressing unknown factor: they may be made with unknown ingredients and under unknown manufacturing and quality standards. As to this particular reported event, we do not have any details beyond what is being reported by the media, including what or whose products were actually consumed. We will continue to vigilantly monitor for any evidence of safety issues.”

Aaron Mesmer/FOX13