Skip to Main Content

Battelle Aids in Vaping Illness Investigation

Posted by Bobby Brewer on Nov 20, 2019

The recent outbreak of electronic cigarette, vaping-related illness that has sickened thousands of people and is thought to be responsible for the death of at least 39 has gotten a lot of media attention. At Battelle, we supported the federal government’s investigation of that vaping induced lung injury.

In October, Battelle received samples of lung (called bronchoalveolar lavage, or BAL) fluid from sickened patients that were sent to us and other labs and agencies for analysis. Due to the potentially complex nature of the BAL fluids and vaping materials, Battelle support was requested because we can perform advanced analytical methods used for characterization of biological samples. We were prepared to help.

Interested in using mass spectrometry for analytical testing?
Learn More


Battelle was asked for analysis using two-dimensional gas chromatography‒time-of-flight mass spectrometry, which provides a unique capability for detecting and identifying unknown compounds in complex matrices. Our experience includes analysis of complex matrices using instrumentation and techniques not often found in other laboratories. 

Battelle previously used this technique to characterize constituents of little cigar smoke1. In the vaping illness investigation, Battelle supported the analyze of BAL fluid samples for the presence of Vitamin E, Vitamin E acetate, THC, cannabinol, mineral oil, and other unknown components.

For 90 years, Battelle has used science to help society and this is a prime example of our organization being prepared to spring into action at a moment’s notice.

1Klupinski, T. P.; Strozier, E. D.; Friedenberg, D. A.; Brinkman, M. C.; Gordon, S. M.; Clark, P. I. “Identification of New and Distinctive Exposures from Little Cigars,” Chem Res Toxicol 2015, 29, 162-168.

About the Author
Bobby Brewer is a division manager in Battelle’s National Security business. 




Photo: battelle employee using a virtual workboard