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The Unique Explosion Dangers of E-Cigarettes

According to a FEMA and U.S. Fire Authority report on e-cigarette explosions released in July 2017, the “combination of an electronic cigarette with a lithium-ion is a new and unique hazard” in the U.S.

The FEMA report which evaluated e-cigarette explosions in the U.S. from 2009-2016, summarized, “There is no analogy among consumer products to the risk of a severe, acute injury presented by an e-cigarette” and incidences of injuries are likely to increase.

The vaping industry has largely ignored e-cigarette explosions with dismissive statements that users are using them incorrectly, using the wrong chargers, and basically responsible for any explosions that have occurred

In direct conflict are FEMA statistics that show 62 percent of the devices exploded when being carried in a pocket or actively in use. The report shows that only 25 percent occurred during the charging process. Of particular note is the statement that new lines of lithium-ion batteries “are not a safe source of energy for these devices.” Instead, unlike other lithium-ion battery powered consumer products, they become “flaming rockets when a battery fails” due to their shape and construction.

Injuries from e-cigarette explosions are quite damaging and include flame burns; chemical burns; blast injuries to face, hands, and thighs; tooth loss; permanent skin scars; and loss of soft tissue. Many of the injuries require burn debridement, skin grafts, bone reconstruction, and long-term care.

Of the 195 injuries reported in the release, 68 percent were acute and 30 percent were severe. The research showed that “No other consumer product that is typically used so close to the human body contains the lithium-ion battery that is the root cause of the incidents.”

The report goes on to show a direct correlate between the number of explosions with the number of sales as show in the graph below:

 

The vaping industries’ response to the danger from these products? Virtual silence.

Although consumer product batteries are tested by UL and other laboratories, there are no requirements for the product containing the battery to submit to product safety testing. With no law requiring such a safety standard, vape manufacturers and resellers apparently believe they can ignore the problem. Unfortunately, that silence will result in more and more explosions and, according to FEMA, “devastating and life-altering” injuries.

The National Law Review