Some people hail vaping as being a safer alternative to 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 there is a few evidence how the stuff inside vapes and e-cigs is toxic. But beyond that, there’s the simple fact these things occasionally blow up.
You hadn’t heard about this? Some pretty gruesome reports are starting to pile up. In November, a male 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 coping with the severe burns caused each time a vape pen starter kit no nicotine caught fire in his pocket a few weeks ago.
Statistics outlining precisely how prevalent this is certainly remain thin, although 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 relies only on incidents reported from the media. Considering the fact that vaping’s seen a surge in popularity since that time-just last year, the CDC reported a 3-fold increase among middle- and high school students alone-the telephone number almost certainly is rising. A brief Search on the internet shows a minimum of a dozen 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. As with any device that uses lithium-ion batteries, you can encounter problems once the battery is damaged or put through extremes in temperature. A shorter circuit may cause the battery to overheat, catch fire, or perhaps explode. These issues often appear in cheap consumer gadgets which are quickly churned away from factories. In general, it’s relatively rare, but obviously it occurs-most recently, in hoverboard scooters.
“With lithium-ion batteries in general, once 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 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 this time.
In some instances, the problem is compounded by cheap lithium-ion batteries that “don’t hold the luxury of employing sophisticated management systems,” Viswanathan says. That can bring about dangerously over- or under-charged batteries. Dendrite is another potential problem. Dendrite can be a conductive filament that can form during the period of boxmmod charge/discharge cycles, specifically if the battery is rapidly charged. This stuff can spread similar to a weed, eventually bridging the electrodes and resulting in a short circuit. “You have basically something comparable to gasoline within your lithium-ion battery,” Viswanathan says, “so immediately it catches fire.”
Lithium-ion batteries power a great deal of gadgets needless to say, and often do this without trouble. But stuff like mobile phone devices 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 on behalf of a manufacturer for device” and, “When there is truly a concern by using 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 uncommon for users to change their box mod vape, and any number of websites offer easy methods to accomplish that. The industry 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 concerning this. Most regulatory discussions about e-cigarettes and vapes focus on the Food and Drug Administration’s critique from the chemicals located in the devices. The FDA is going to introduce rules regulating the business, a move that can classify e-cigarettes and vaping products similar to 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 is considered about the safety of the devices.
The Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association says it supports “reasonable science-based regulations,” but opposes something that might “stifle innovation.” Nevertheless it argues “e-cigs and vapor goods are technology products, separate and distinct from combustible tobacco.” They liken these to electronic products.
That’s where things get tricky. Asked when it has any safety concerns regarding the devices, the individual Products Safety Commission deferred on the FDA, saying this is the federal regulator in charge there. The FDA does claim responsibility for ensuring the security from the parts inside the devices which can be used in the consumption of cigarettes and tobacco products. But there aren’t a lot of safety rules for manufacturers to adhere to, as well as the FDA is encouraging men and women to report any problems.
Viswanathan has a recommendation for companies making what is the point of vaping and other gadgets that use lithium-ion batteries: Crib from automakers making electric cars. They’ve developed sophisticated systems for minimizing the hazards of problems. “Lithium-ion batteries fundamentally are prone to catching fire,” he says, “and car makers have found efficient approaches to create zones where these batteries are safe to use.”
Granted, the percentages your vape pen will blow up like an exploding cigar are slim. But it is possible, so the best choice is to purchase a high quality vape pen from the reputable manufacturer. Check the parts-if they appear and feel cheap, they probably are. Viswanathan suggests making certain it’s got some type of battery management system to prevent shorts and thermal runaway. Make sure you’re making use of the right battery and charger, and don’t modify anything.