Are E-Cigarettes Safe?

Electronic Cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are the craze nowadays. And while they may seem harmless, their long-term effects are unknown. There have been cases of nicotine poisoning and instances of the device spontaneously exploding, causing serious burns and injury to the face and body.

Nicotine Poisoning

Nicotine is toxic and addictive. It impairs brain and lung development in unborn babies and can result in low birth weight, early delivery and stillbirth.

Liquid nicotine, which is often used in e-cigarettes, is toxic and harmful to anyone who inhales it or comes in physical contact with it. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), liquid nicotine poisoning is on the rise. In September 2010, the poison control center only got one call per month involving e-cigarettes. That number increased to 215 calls per month by February 2014. Of those, 51% involved children under 6 years old, probably due to the fact that:

  • children are attracted to the flavors; and
  • bottles of e-juice do not have child safety lids.

Nicotine poisoning can occur when it is inhaled, ingested or absorbed in the skin. A person poisoned by nicotine may show some or all of the following symptoms:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • sweating
  • dizziness
  • shaking
  • fast heart rate
  • lack of muscle coordination
  • seizures

E-Cigarette Explosions

The e-cigarette has been known to explode while being charged, in someone’s pocket or hand, or while being used.

Most of the explosions occur while the device is charging, which can cause fire. There have also been cases of the device exploding while being used, resulting in severe burns and injury to the face and mouth. A Memphis man, whose e-cigarette blew up while he was vaping, suffered not only facial injury but also a broken neck, leaving him with the fear of paralysis. In another instance, a New Jersey man suffered severe burns to his leg when his e-cigarette exploded while resting in his pants pocket.

It is unknown exactly why some of the devices explode; however, it’s suspected that the lithium battery used to charge the device plays a role. It is thought that low quality products, poor design, product defects, or the heating element in the device could contribute to the battery overheating, thereby resulting in explosion or fire. It is highly recommended that anyone using the e-cigarette only charge it using the charger that came with the device.

Popcorn Lung

Another concern is the flavoring used in e-cigarettes. There are thousands of flavors available and no one to regulate what goes into them. A recent Harvard University study found that several of the flavors contain diacytel, a chemical that causes what the CDC refers to as “flavorings-related lung disease.” It has the nickname of “popcorn lung” because it is the same disease developed by workers in popcorn manufacturing facilities who inhaled the artificial butter flavor of the microwaveable popcorn. The same chemical found in e-cigarettes was used in the popcorn flavoring.

E-Cigarette Safety

Surprisingly, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate e-cigarettes. As a result, there is no one checking the safety of the devices or what goes into them.

It may be several years before it is known about the long-term effects of using e-cigarettes. In the short-term, however, it is best to:

  • use those that do not have added flavor;
  • only use the supplied charger; and
  • store the bottles of e-juice and the e-cigarette accessories in an area out of reach of children.

Our office has many years of experience representing people injured by defective products. If you’ve been injured by an e-cigarette, hookah pen, e-hookah or vape pipe then call our office for a free consultation.