E-cigarettes continue to grow in popularity and with that increase in use, the debate over the relative health risks are now matched by the rise in safety hazards. A Kalamazoo man reportedly “Took a couple of puffs off of it, had it between my fingers, looked down and my hand was on fire….luckily I did not have it in my mouth because it would have put my eye out,” reported safetyresearch.net.
An estimated 2.5 million e-cigarette smokers have turned to “vaping” as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, but could end up with serious burns. There are news reports of these e-cigarettes exploding “in user’s pockets, in their hands and in their mouths, resulting in severe burn injuries and lost teeth and eyes.”
E-cigarettes use a common lithium-ion battery called the 18650, slightly larger than an AA battery. These batteries are often used for power tools and laptops, and are manufactured by established companies such as Duracell as well as unfamiliar brands made in China. The statistics thus far reportedly found 41 explosions occurred while in use, 69 during charging of the battery, 25 during transport or storage and 16 when the removable batteries were outside the device, safetyresearch.net reports. Additionally, loose batteries can short or discharge if terminals make contact with change, keys, or other metallic objects.
In April 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a proposed rule to claim jurisdiction over e-cigarettes, with results of that proposal currently pending. In October 2015, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued an interim rule prohibiting e-cigarettes in checked baggage and prohibiting charging them while onboard an aircraft, recognizing the devices as an “emerging safety risk.”