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Reports of Exploding E-Cigarettes Raise Safety Concerns

Apr 8, 2016

Reports of exploding e-cigarettes have added to concerns over the devices, which have become increasingly popular in their time on the market. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were 25 reports of e-cigarettes exploding or setting fire in 2014. The devices were used by roughly 2.5 million people in the United States that year.

Recently, a Kalamazoo man suffered third degree burns when his e-cigarette exploded in his hand. "Took a couple of puffs off of it, had it between my fingers, looked down and my hand was on fire," he said to News Channel 3 in Kalamazoo, MI. "The whole thing just completely exploded."

"You don't know when they're going to explode, maybe some of them don't, I don't know, but they told me luckily I did not have it in my mouth because it would have put my eye out," he said.

E-cigarettes are fairly unregulated. In April 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed rules to regulate the devices in April 2014 and recently submitted its Final Rule for review.

Many e-cigarette explosions occur when the device is charging its lithium-ion battery. “When the battery seal (at the end of the battery) ruptures, the pressure within the e-cigarette cylinder builds quickly and instantly ruptures, usually at the end. As a result of the battery and container failure, one or the other, or both, can be propelled across the room like a bullet or small rocket.” USFA says.

Trade publication eCig One conducted an analysis of the 151 e-cigarette explosions reported in the news; 41 occurred during use, 69 while charging, 25 during transport or storage and 16 involved removable batteries outside the device.

E-cigarettes use a type of lithium battery cell called the 18650, which can either be “protected” or “unprotected”. The protected version has three ways to prevent issues such as overheating, while the unprotected type use only two. Reportedly, most 18650 batteries in e-cigarettes are unprotected.

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