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Doctors Express Concern About Exploding E-Cigarettes

Since 2009, the Food and Drug Administration has been trying to regulate e-cigarettes and similar devices. Now, the world famous Arizona Burn Center has recently begun monitoring e-cigarette explosions, with plans to document the phenomenon in a medical journal. The Burn Center has documented 12 cases of exploding e-cigarettes over the past 12 weeks. These vaping devices can explode when the batteries malfunction. An Arizona teen was severely injured this summer when her vaping device exploded. Part of the device launched to a driveway three houses away. The battery that powered the device fell on her, igniting her clothes and searing her hand and parts of her upper body. She needed to stay at the Maricopa Medical Center’s Arizona Burn Center for three weeks while she endured three surgeries and skin grafts.

Officials at the Arizona Burn Center say such accidents occur regularly. Some explosions cause extensive burns that require multiple skin grafts, said Dr. Kevin Foster, Arizona Burn Center’s chief of burn services. Foster said some explosions have occurred when users were in the process of igniting the device. Others received severe burns when the device’s battery exploded in their pants’ pocket. One man in his 20s was left with severe second-degree burns when the device caught fire in his pockets.

While there have been no comprehensive studies on how frequently the accidents occur, the U.S. Fire Administration released a report which concluded that while such explosions are rare, the shape and construction of e-cigarette devices can propel them like “flaming rockets” if the device’s lithium-ion battery malfunctions or overheats. The fire administration said the most common explosions occurred while the batteries were charging. Lithium-ion battery explosions can occur when the battery’s internal pressure builds and breaks through the battery’s seal. The fire administration’s report said that batteries in laptop computers and other portable devices include strong plastic cases that work to contain the fire and prevent the rocket-like effect that can occur with vaping devices.

The Food and Drug Administration this year moved toward regulating e-cigarettes like traditional tobacco products, and those proposed regulations would include new standards for manufacturers, including battery safety. The Arizona Burn Center’s Foster said the public should be aware that these battery-powered devices can explode. “The fact that these devices can be made so poorly, and we are seeing injuries that can be really, really severe,” Foster said. “If it blows up in your hand or your face, that’s a big deal.”

If you or a loved one has been burned when using a product, give us a call for a free evaluation. We have handled many burn injury cases and obtained meaningful results that have changed our clients’ lives.

Author: Serena C. Montague
Publication Date: June 19, 2017



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