Vapes, also known as e-cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, have become widely popular over the past few years. While advocates for the vape industry claim that vapes are safer than cigarettes (and some claim they help consumers quit smoking) research has found that these flavors used to create the vaping experience have toxic chemicals linked to lung disease.
Furthermore, there have been numerous instances of vaping devices exploding, catching fire, and harming their user.
So, before you assume vaping is safe or give into the advertisements, you need to consider what you are truly investing in.
What Is Vaping and When Did It Come to Chicago?
E-cigarettes are a type of electronic nicotine system. They deliver liquid nicotine that is combined with flavor, glycerin, and propylene glycol to create a vapor instead of the traditional smoke cloud made by cigarettes.
Vaping devices were designed by a pharmacist in Beijing back in 2003. The product was new, and its designer wanted something that he could use instead of cigarettes. His purpose for vapes was to have something safer, effective, and efficient at helping a consumer quit. The e-cigarettes took off in 2007 when they flooded the U.S. and European markets.
While popular, it was only one year after their release that the World Health Organization (WHO) started to question their safety. As more devices enter the market, more studies have followed indicating that these devices are not as safe as originally thought.
What Are E-Liquids and Why Are They Advertised as “Safe” Alternatives?
E-cigarettes rely on flavored e-liquid, which contains nicotine. E-cigarettes and their liquid are not FDA-approved. Because there is no FDA regulation of those products, you have thousands on the market that come in a variety of flavors and nicotine levels.
These liquids advertise that they are safer alternatives to cigarettes, because they do not contain the same harsh chemicals, toxins, and tar associated with cigarettes. While they might not have the lethal chemical composition of a traditional cigarette, research found that they are not entirely safe.
In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they would be overseeing all tobacco products, which included e-cigarettes. Now, manufactures must register any products they have with the FDA, but they still have two years to submit applications, which means all manufacturers will not be included in the registration program until further into 2018.
It is not clear how many ingredients and what ingredients are in e-liquids, because every company has their own formulation.
Even those that claim to be nicotine-free have been found to use nicotine or still have traces of nicotine. Other studies found that some contain formaldehyde.
One popular brand of e-liquid manufactured in Canada voluntarily recalled more than 5,000 bottles of their Groovy Grape flavoring after it was found to contain diacetyl, which could potentially cause popcorn lung.
Diacetyl is used in artificial flavorings in food, including microwave popcorn with “butter” flavor. In 2004 it was found that this chemical compound could cause bronchiolitis obliterans, which is a chronic disease known as “popcorn lung.”
Popcorn lung is incurable and creates small air sacs in the lungs and permanent scarring – making it hard for a person to breathe.
Chemicals and Diseases Are Not the Only Risk with Vaping
While there is the potential of chronic diseases, lung damage, and other conditions from using vapes, another safety risk is fire and explosions.
E-cigarettes need a heating element to help vaporize the liquid solution and create that classic vape cloud. Some vaping devices active a heat coil, which automatically initiates when you drag from the device. Other times the vape device is manual, which means you must initiate the coil’s heating property. To generate the heat, the device uses a battery, which is typically a lithium-ion battery.
Lithium-ion batteries have been around for some time. They use layers of metallic anode and cathode that are separated by a porous film. The film holds a liquid electrolyte solution, which is highly combustible. If the battery were to overheat, that flammable liquid can ignite and force the device to explode.
Overheating for e-cigarettes occurs in many ways, including:
- Overcharging the device battery
- Puncture to the device
- External heat sources
- Short circuits inside the device
- Internal cell failure
Serious Burns and Injuries Associated with Exploding E-Cigarettes
From 2009 to 2014, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports that there were 25 explosions and fires associated with the vaping devices. These incidents resulted in nine injuries, but no deaths. Two of the 25 accidents resulted in serious burns.
After 2014, more incidents occurred with e-cigarettes. Some consumers were using the device when it exploded in their face – resulting in devastating burns.
Just some incidents of explosions and burns include:
- A man was hospitalized in November 2011 for an electronic cigarette explosion in his face that sent battery acid into his mouth, face, and eyes, and burned his skin.
- Another vape device exploded in February 2012 causing a victim to lose teeth and a portion of their tongue.
- After charging for two hours, one battery exploded in a user’s hand causing second and third-degree burns on the victim’s hand and smoke inhalation in June 2013.
- In February 2015, a victim suffered burns and lacerations from debris when his device exploded in his face.
- In October 2015, there was one incident where a man’s device blew up in his face and damaged his mouth and index finger, which was later amputated. That same month another victim had an e-cigarette explode in his face and the device went down his throat in the blast – exploding again and causing internal damage.
- In November 2015, a man suffered from a broken neck, facial fractures, and burns to the face and mouth after his device exploded.
Electronic Cigarettes No Longer Allowed on Airplanes
Currently the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has banned all use of battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices from checked luggage and passengers/crew cannot carry these devices on them while boarding a plane.
How Often Do E-Cigarettes Explode?
In a study conducted by the USFA, there were 195 e-cigarette fire and explosions from January 2009 to December 31, 2016. In 68 percent of those cases there were 133 acute injuries. A clear majority of the products exploded while in the user’s pockets, while 60 percent exploded during use. Another 48 percent occurred while being charged, and 18 percent exploded while in storage.
The USFA states that the explosions are bursts of overheating, flashes of light and smoke, and then an ejection of the battery. The explosion does not reach other objects in the area; instead, it only affects a small number of items nearby. In most of the injuries reported, USFA states that 80 percent were moderate, while only 38 percent were severe. 15 percent were minor injuries.
Can Vaping Be Safe?
An e-cigarette that uses a lithium-ion battery will always have a chance of hazard, because these devices can catch fire or overheat, as can anything that uses a such a battery. When purchasing a vaping system, you should consider the following to ensure you are not affected by these explosions, toxins, and other hazards:
- Only purchase e-cigarettes that have been listed by the Underwriters’ Laboratory (UL), and make sure the product has the UL label on it.
- Consider e-cigarettes that do not use lithium-ion batteries. Look for alternative charging methods or battery-free units instead.
- Only charge the device for the amount recommended in the user handbook and do not leave your device charging overnight or unmonitored for several hours at a time.
- Do not store the device in your pocket.
- Read the label for any e-liquid you purchase to see what ingredients it might contain. Do not purchase vaping liquid that has harmful toxins or does not have an ingredient list.
- Stay on top of product recalls issued by the FDA and warnings from the FDA on e-liquids and specific vaping devices.
Injured by a Defecting Vaping Device?
If you were injured by a defective device, you may be entitled to compensation. To explore your options, schedule a consultation with an attorney from Malman Law. Our attorneys will aggressively seek compensation in your injury case and we will hold manufacturers accountable for their products – ensuring others are protected too.
Schedule your free consultation now by calling 888-836-5975 or request more information online.