CNN recently reported that a 17-year old needed to travel from his small Nevada town to a Utah pediatric hospital after his e-cigarette exploded, shattering his jaw and breaking many of his teeth. The doctor at the trauma center who treated him said that people need to know that vaping can be extremely dangerous.
And it is dangerous. A 2018 study estimates that nearly 2,000 exploding e-cigarettes required ER visits between 2015 and 2017. A Texas man died after an e-cig explosion caused shrapnel to tear a carotid artery. A Florida man died when an e-cigarette “exploded during use, sending a projectile into his head.” In both death cases, the vaporizes used batteries that are more powerful than most e-cig batteries.
Per CNN, “The injuries have mounted as experts warn of an ‘epidemic’ of teen vaping, with almost 40% of 12th-graders using the devices, according to a report released last year…. Most accidents involved flame burns, and almost 30% of patients endured ‘blast injuries’ that led to ‘tooth loss, traumatic tattooing, and extensive loss of soft tissue.’ The flame burns required wound care and skin grafts.”
What’s in an e-cigarette?
E-cigarettes are also called electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), vape pens, vaporizers, and alternative nicotine delivery systems (ANDS). According to the American Cancer Society, e-cigarettes are classified as tobacco products by the FDA even though they don’t contain any tobacco. Most e-cigs do contain nicotine, an addictive drug. JUUL is a well-known brand which is popular among teenagers and young adults because it can be charged into a computer and can be easily hidden from their parents’ sight. E-cigarettes come in many shapes – pens, pipes, USB flash drives, cigarettes, and cigars.
E-cigarettes include “a battery that turns the device on, a heating element that heats the e-liquid and turns it into a vapor, a cartridge or tank that holds the e-liquid, and a mouthpiece or opening used to inhale the vapor.”
Vaping means the inhaling of the e-cigarette vapor. E-cigarettes also contain chemical substances which can, according to the American Cancer Society, cause lung and airway irritation. The e-cigarettes and vapor may also contain:
- Flavoring chemicals which may be toxic
- Volatile organic compounds which can “damage the liver, kidney and nervous system”
FDA battery recommendations
Currently, the FDA doesn’t regulate which chemicals the manufacturers can include. The FDA does recommend that consumers use devices with safety features that “prevent loose batteries from contact with metal objects.” Batteries shouldn’t be charged overnight or left unattended. Consumers should use the right charger.
The FDA also recommends:
- Making sure not to “remove or disable safety features—like fire button locks or vent holes—that are designed to prevent battery overheating and explosions.”
- Only using batteries the manufacturer recommends
- Charging your vape away from anything that might catch fire
- Reading the manufacturer’s instructions
- Not leaving your vape in direct sunlight or outside on a freezing night
The doctor who treated the 17-year old boy for the shattered jaw pointed out that while cigarettes come with warnings about possible death, and e-cigarettes warn that nicotine is addictive, there is generally little or no warning about the risk of exploding batteries.
At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, our product liability attorneys work with product safety experts to help show consumer items are defective, and that the defect is what caused a death or caused harm. In product liability cases, manufacturers are strictly liable for the harm their defective products cause. We demand full compensation for your medical expenses, your physical pain and emotional suffering, and your lost income.
If your or a loved one was hurt by an exploding e-cigarette or is suffering from diseases due to e-cigarette use, call us at (865) 428-8780 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment. For more than 20 years, we’ve been helping accident victims get justice. We represent clients Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the neighboring Tennessee locations.