Some people hail vaping as a safer substitute for cigarettes, arguing that there’s no tobacco smoke, so it’s have got to be safer. It remains to be noticed if that’s true, and then there is some evidence that the stuff inside vapes and e-cigs is toxic. But beyond that, there’s the very fact these things occasionally blow up.
You hadn’t found out about this? Some pretty gruesome reports are beginning to accumulate. In November, a man in Colorado broke his neck, lost some teeth, and suffered burns and facial fractures when his electronic cigarette exploded. A 15-year-old California boy lost half 12 teeth in the similar mishap last month. In Tennessee, another teen is dealing with the severe burns caused whenever a vape starter kit caught fire in their pocket several weeks ago.
Statistics outlining how prevalent this is remain thin, however the Federal Emergency Management Agency, of things, identified 25 cases of e-cigarette explosions in america between 2009-2014. However, that list is located only on incidents reported from the media. Given that vaping’s seen a surge in popularity consequently-a year ago, the CDC reported a three-fold increase among middle- and school students alone-the number almost certainly is rising. A brief Online search shows at least a dozen explosions in 2015 alone.
Rather than burning tobacco, vape pens and e-cigs utilize a small lithium-ion battery to heat an aerosol cartridge to release a vapor that’s inhaled. As with any device which uses lithium-ion batteries, you may encounter problems as soon as the battery is damaged or put through extremes in temperature. A quick circuit might cause the battery to overheat, catch fire, or perhaps explode. These problems have a tendency to exist in cheap consumer gadgets that are quickly churned from factories. On the whole, it’s relatively rare, but obviously it occurs-most recently, in hoverboard scooters.
“With lithium-ion batteries generally speaking, when you operate one outside its safety window, there’s a tendency where things could go wrong,” says Venkat Viswanathan, who teaches mechanical engineering Carnegie Mellon University. That window is startlingly small: Viswanathan says batteries would be best kept between 50 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s February, and all of but four US states are averaging temperatures below 50 at the moment.
In some cases, the thing is compounded by cheap lithium-ion batteries that “don’t get the luxury of utilizing sophisticated management systems,” Viswanathan says. That can lead to dangerously over- or under-charged batteries. Dendrite is an additional potential problem. Dendrite is really a conductive filament that may form over the course of boxmmod charge/discharge cycles, especially if the battery is rapidly charged. These things can spread like a weed, eventually bridging the electrodes and creating a short circuit. “You have basically something equal to gasoline inside of your lithium-ion battery,” Viswanathan says, “and thus immediately it catches fire.”
Lithium-ion batteries power a whole lot of gadgets of course, and often do so without trouble. But things like cell phones and laptops and electric vehicles typically are created to exacting specifications and rigorously tested, both through the company and outside experts. The Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association, which represents for vape-makers, stated it “cannot talk to user error or for a manufacturer for his or her device” and, “If you find truly a challenge having a specific device, just like a lap top or cellular phone manufacturer, that company should consider the appropriate action.”
And also to be fair, it’s not unusual for users to modify their vape box mod, and a variety of websites offer tips about how to do just that. The marketplace trade group duly notes that hacked and modded devices can pose a safety risk.
All of which begs the question what, if anything, is now being done regarding this. Most regulatory discussions about e-cigarettes and vapes concentrate on the Food and Drug Administration’s critique of the chemicals in the devices. The FDA is about to introduce rules regulating the industry, a move that could classify e-cigarettes and vaping products just like tobacco. Products would carry warning labels, sales to minors can be banned, and you’d see restrictions on things like offering free samples. But little has been said concerning the safety of your devices.
The Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association says it supports “reasonable science-based regulations,” but opposes whatever might “stifle innovation.” But it argues “e-cigs and vapor goods are technology products, separate and distinct from combustible tobacco.” They liken these people to consumer electronics.
That’s where things get tricky. Asked when it has any safety concerns concerning the devices, the customer Products Safety Commission deferred to the FDA, saying this is the federal regulator in charge there. The FDA does claim responsibility for ensuring the security in the parts in the devices which can be employed in the intake of tobacco products. But there aren’t lots of safety rules for manufacturers to follow, as well as the FDA is encouraging men and women to report any problems.
Viswanathan features a recommendation for companies making what is vaping as well as other gadgets that use lithium-ion batteries: Crib from automakers making electric cars. They’ve developed sophisticated systems for minimizing the health risks of problems. “Lithium-ion batteries fundamentally are susceptible to catching fire,” he says, “and car makers have found efficient strategies to create zones where these batteries are secure to work.”
Granted, the chances that your particular vape pen will blow up such as an exploding cigar are slim. However it is possible, so your best option is to find a high quality vape pen from the reputable manufacturer. Check the parts-when they feel and look cheap, they probably are. Viswanathan suggests ensuring it’s got some form of battery management system to avoid shorts and thermal runaway. Make sure you’re while using right battery and charger, and don’t modify anything.