Many people hail vaping like a safer substitute for cigarettes, arguing that there’s no tobacco smoke, so it’s reached be safer. It remains to be seen if that’s true, and then there is some evidence the stuff inside vapes and e-cigs is toxic. But beyond that, there’s the actual fact this stuff occasionally blow up.
You hadn’t heard of this? Some pretty gruesome reports are beginning to stack up. 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 12 teeth in a similar mishap last month. In Tennessee, another teen is recovering from the severe burns caused each time a vape starter kit caught fire in their pocket a few weeks ago.
Statistics outlining precisely how prevalent this is certainly 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 through the media. Considering that vaping’s seen a surge in popularity since that time-a year ago, the CDC reported a 3-fold increase among middle- and school students alone-the telephone number more than likely is rising. A quick Internet search shows no less than twelve explosions in 2015 alone.
As an alternative to 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. Like in any device which uses lithium-ion batteries, you may come upon problems if the battery is damaged or subjected to extremes in temperature. A quick circuit could cause the battery to overheat, catch fire, or even explode. These issues often exist in cheap consumer gadgets that happen to be quickly churned out from factories. In general, it’s relatively rare, but obviously it occurs-most recently, in hoverboard scooters.
“With lithium-ion batteries on the whole, 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 work best kept between 50 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s February, and but four US states are averaging temperatures below 50 at this time.
In some cases, the problem is compounded by cheap lithium-ion batteries that “don’t possess the luxury of employing sophisticated management systems,” Viswanathan says. That can bring about dangerously over- or under-charged batteries. Dendrite can be another potential problem. Dendrite can be a conductive filament that could 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 creating a short circuit. “You have basically something comparable to gasoline inside of your lithium-ion battery,” Viswanathan says, “and so immediately it catches fire.”
Lithium-ion batteries power a whole lot of gadgets obviously, and frequently do this without trouble. But things like mobile phones and laptops and electric vehicles typically are manufactured to exacting specifications and rigorously tested, both through the company and outside experts. The Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association, which represents for vape-makers, said it “cannot speak to user error or with respect to a manufacturer for their device” and, “If you find truly a concern using a specific device, just like a lap top or cellular phone manufacturer, that company should use the appropriate action.”
And also to be fair, it’s not unusual for users to change their vape box mod kit, and any number of websites offer easy methods to do exactly that. The marketplace trade group duly notes that hacked and modded devices can pose a safety risk.
Which begs the question what, if something, is now being done relating to this. Most regulatory discussions about e-cigarettes and vapes concentrate on the Food and Drug Administration’s critique of your chemicals found in the devices. The FDA is going to introduce rules regulating the market, a move which could classify electronic cigarettes and vaping products similar to tobacco. Products would carry warning labels, sales to minors could be banned, and you’d see restrictions on such things as offering free samples. But little is considered regarding the safety in the devices.
The Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association says it supports “reasonable science-based regulations,” but opposes anything that might “stifle innovation.” Nevertheless it argues “e-cigs and vapor products are technology products, separate and distinct from combustible tobacco.” They liken these people to consumer electronics.
That’s where things get tricky. Asked whether it has any safety concerns regarding the devices, the individual Products Safety Commission deferred for the FDA, saying this is the federal regulator in charge there. The FDA does claim responsibility for ensuring the safety of your parts in the devices which are utilized in the intake of cigarettes and tobacco products. But there aren’t a great deal of safety rules for manufacturers to go by, along with the FDA is encouraging customers to report any problems.
Viswanathan features a recommendation for companies making what is sub ohm vaping as well as other gadgets that utilize 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 are finding efficient strategies to create zones where these batteries are secure to operate.”
Granted, the odds that your vape pen will blow up as an exploding cigar are slim. Yet it is possible, so the best option is to buy a top quality vape pen coming from a reputable manufacturer. Examine the parts-once they appear and feel cheap, they probably are. Viswanathan suggests ensuring that it’s got some form of battery management system in order to avoid shorts and thermal runaway. Ensure you’re using the right battery and charger, and don’t modify anything.