E-cigarettes are a popular alternative to traditional cigarettes. In 2016, 3.2% of adults were using these devices. But this trend has also become a source of danger. Many have been injured as a result of these e-cigarette explosions and 120 lawsuits were filed in 2017. These frightening explosions don’t happen often, but when they do it’s usually without any warning. Health risks are another threat of e-cigarettes. Dangerous flavoring chemicals and other components of e-cigarettes can potentially lead to health issues. These threats can happen to any user, anywhere. Here’s what you need to know to better protect yourself.
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Injuries Caused by E-Cigarettes and Vape Pens
E-cigarette explosions have been linked to the lithium-ion batteries powering them. These specific batteries are used in many everyday items like cell phones and laptops. But e-cigarettes aren’t regulated like other products. As of 2015, a retail license is required in Indiana in order to sell e-cigarettes. However, most of the requirements of this license pertain to the selling of tobacco and nicotine and not the individual parts that make up the device.
There are many different contributors to these explosions. Because these products continue to grow more popular, those looking to make a profit may turn to cheaper manufacturing that causes problem. Lithium-ion batteries have a compact design, making it easy for them to overheat. For example, faulty chargers have been known to charge the battery too quickly. Other devices could be labeled with incorrect instructions. Some defective batteries can even interact with loose change in your pocket to cause an explosion.
Third-degree burns, skin grafts, fires, and knocked-out teeth are just some injuries caused by e-cigarettes. In January of 2016 a semi-truck driver crashed on I-65 after his e-cigarette exploded during use. Although no one was injured in the crash, the driver did suffer injuries from the e-cigarette explosion.
E-cigarette regulations have been focused on the tobacco and nicotine element, not the battery or other parts of the device. Lack of these regulations allows manufacturers to quickly and cheaply make products. Even when a user purchases their e-cigarette from what they consider a “trusted” retailer, there is still no guarantee the product won’t cause injury.
Health Concerns of E-Cigarettes and Vape Pens
The rise in popularity of e-cigarettes has brought with it health concerns that began in popcorn factories. Workers were breathing in the flavor chemical diacetyl. It was linked to deaths and an irreversible lung disease known as popcorn lung.
Along with diacetyl, other harmful chemicals like pentanedione and acetone can be found in around 92% of e-cigarettes. The popcorn manufactures were required to remove the harmful ingredient, but no ruling has been made stating that e-cig manufacturers must remove it as well. Other chemicals in these liquids include nicotine, an addictive substance, and ones that lead to diseases like COPD. These concerns have yet to sprout into a health crisis. But these devices are relatively new to us and perhaps for long-term-users, concerns may wait down the road.
However, there are still health risks currently appearing in users. Irfan Rahman, Ph.D. found a link between e-cigarette liquid and gum sores that are similar to ones frequent smokers have experienced. Similarly, some evidence has appeared with users experiencing similar symptoms to smokers like smoker’s cough. The “DIY” culture that is lumped together with e-cigarettes has also shown that some users will drip e-liquid directly to the heating coil of the device in order to get a harder hit, but the intense rise in heat for the seemingly harmless liquids can turn them into toxic ones.
Again, more studies and research must be conducted to understand the long-term risks associated with e-cigarettes and all its components. But we are slowly beginning to understand some of the risks now, and maybe it’s best to move forward with knowledge of these chemicals and their dangerous potential.
Without knowledge of how and when these e-cigarettes explode or the risks of the ingredients the product contains, no user is truly safe.