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Teen who almost died from vaping surprised to learn chemicals used in vaping

The Tennessee Health Department says 68 Tennesseans have lung injuries from E-cigarettes and two have died. Now, a deeper look at exactly what teens like Harrison Myers of Sevierville were inhaling.

Myers played basketball throughout his school years and says he used to dunk on a 10 foot goal. Now a shoot around takes all he’s got adding, “I’m not going to lie, it’s hard.”

Harrison got deathly ill in August from vaping and spent four days in the hospital explaining, “They said my lungs would scar and not necessarily get back to 100 percent.”

Myers says he lost weight going from 150 pounds to 127 pounds during his hospital stay adding, “I couldn’t eat anything. It’s the worst feeling. Can’t breathe. Can’t eat. It felt like somebody was stabbing me in the chest.”

He showed us the cartridges he’d been inhaling for months, admitting he never took the time to find out what’s in it until he got sick.

Neither had Hannah Hensley who says, “I had no clue at first.” Hensley almost died in the hospital according to her doctors and her mother.

It’s taken months, and the CDC now says Vitamin E Acetate is the likely culprit in the widespread vaping related illness. However, it’s not the only damaging chemicals according to the American Lung Association. Hensley learned, “It has propylene glycol in it and I didn’t know what that was. I had to Google it and it’s antifreeze, so it had antifreeze in it.”

Hensley’s been on a mission telling rooms full of people about what’s in these vials of vape juice. Hensley got sick last spring before the federal government publicized the connection between vaping and lung failure.

Her mom, Kimberly Hensley, says they didn’t make the connection to Hannah’s near death experience and her vaping until, “Hanna cleaned out her car and she brings me the bottle of that vape juice and it’s exactly the color he (the doctor) said the fluid in her lungs was tinted and I knew. Through tears, Kimberly Hensley adds, “I was like that was it all the time.”

There’s also acetaldehyde and formaldehyde, both carcinogens according to the American Lung Association along with toxic metals cadmium, nickel, tin and lead and diacetyl, previously linked to popcorn lung.

Dr. Jacob Kaslow is a pediatric pulmonologist at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital says, “Workers in microwaveable popcorn factories are not to inhale a certain amount of this because it’s known to cause lung damage. So, if we’re limiting the amount workers can have, but not the amount our teens are inhaling, that’s a scary thought.”

Benzene is in some of them too. That’s the same stuff in your car exhaust. Plus, acrolein from herbicides used to kill weeds. Right now, Hannah’s lungs are operating at 63 percent.

Dr Kaslow says, “We have no idea what these lungs are going to look like 10, 20, 30 years down the road and my suspicion is that it won’t be good.”

Hannah and Harrison, two teens lucky to be alive, and telling anyone who will listen not to vape. Harrison adds, “All I can do is tell you how bad it is and what it can do to you because I could have lost my life.”

Tennessee’s State Epidemiologist says these lung injuries are completely preventable and without being able to always trace which vape juice has Vitamin E Acetate and which doesn’t, it’s best not to vape.

Stacy Case/Fox