Some people hail vaping like a safer option to cigarettes, arguing that there’s no tobacco smoke, so it’s got to be safer. It remains to be seen if that’s true, where there is some evidence that this stuff inside vapes and e-cigs is toxic. But beyond that, there’s the simple fact this stuff occasionally blow up.
You hadn’t heard of this? Some pretty gruesome reports are beginning to accumulate. In November, a person 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 twelve teeth within a similar mishap last month. In Tennessee, another teen is recuperating from the severe burns caused each time a vape pen starter kit with juice caught fire within his pocket a couple weeks ago.
Statistics outlining how prevalent this can be remain thin, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency, of most things, identified 25 cases of e-cigarette explosions in the united states between 2009-2014. However, that list is situated only on incidents reported from the media. Considering that vaping’s seen a surge in popularity consequently-last year, the CDC reported a three-fold increase among middle- and school students alone-the quantity certainly is rising. A brief Internet search shows a minimum of a dozen explosions in 2015 alone.
As an alternative to burning tobacco, vape pens and e-cigs use a small lithium-ion battery to heat an aerosol cartridge to release a vapor that’s inhaled. Like any device that uses lithium-ion batteries, you are able to encounter problems if the battery is damaged or put through extremes in temperature. A short circuit might cause the battery to overheat, catch fire, or even explode. These complications often exist in cheap consumer gadgets that happen to be quickly churned away from factories. In general, it’s relatively rare, but obviously it happens-recently, in hoverboard scooters.
“With lithium-ion batteries generally, when you operate one outside its safety window, there’s a tendency where things can go wrong,” says Venkat Viswanathan, who teaches mechanical engineering Carnegie Mellon University. That window is startlingly small: Viswanathan says batteries are best kept between 50 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s February, and all sorts of but four US states are averaging temperatures below 50 at the moment.
In some cases, the catch is compounded by cheap lithium-ion batteries that “don’t possess the luxury of utilizing sophisticated management systems,” Viswanathan says. That can cause dangerously over- or under-charged batteries. Dendrite is an additional potential problem. Dendrite is really a conductive filament that will form during the period of boxmmod charge/discharge cycles, specifically if the battery is rapidly charged. These things can spread like a weed, eventually bridging the electrodes and resulting in a short circuit. “You have basically something similar 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 obviously, and quite often do so without trouble. But things such as cell phones and laptops and electric vehicles typically are made to exacting specifications and rigorously tested, both from the company and outside experts. The Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association, which represents for vape-makers, said it “cannot talk with user error or for a manufacturer for their device” and, “If there is truly a problem with a specific device, much like a lap top or mobile phone manufacturer, that company should go ahead and take appropriate action.”
As well as to be fair, it’s not unusual for users to modify their vape mod box, and any number of websites offer tips about how to just do that. The market trade group duly notes that hacked and modded devices can pose a safety risk.
All of which begs the question what, if something, will be done about this. Most regulatory discussions about e-cigarettes and vapes target the Food and Drug Administration’s critique of the chemicals found in the devices. The FDA is going to introduce rules regulating the business, a move that could classify e-cigarettes and vaping products very much like tobacco. Products would carry warning labels, sales to minors can be banned, and you’d see restrictions on stuff like offering free samples. But little has been said in regards to the safety from the devices.
The Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association says it supports “reasonable science-based regulations,” but opposes something that might “stifle innovation.” But it really argues “e-cigs and vapor merchandise is technology products, separate and distinct from combustible tobacco.” They liken these to consumer electronics.
That’s where things get tricky. Asked when it has any safety concerns about the devices, the Consumer Products Safety Commission deferred to the FDA, saying it is the federal regulator in charge there. The FDA does claim responsibility for ensuring the security of your parts from the devices that happen to be utilized in the consumption of cigarettes and tobacco products. But there aren’t a great deal of safety rules for manufacturers to adhere to, and the FDA is encouraging customers to report any problems.
Viswanathan has a recommendation for companies making what is vaping as well as other gadgets which 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 prone to catching fire,” he says, “and car makers have found efficient ways to create zones where these batteries are secure to function.”
Granted, the chances your vape pen will blow up as an exploding cigar are slim. Yet it is possible, so the best choice is to find a high quality vape pen from the reputable manufacturer. Examine the parts-if they appearance and feel cheap, they probably are. Viswanathan suggests making certain it’s got some form of battery management system to stop shorts and thermal runaway. Ensure you’re utilizing the right battery and charger, and don’t modify anything.