Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes or electronic nicotine delivery systems, have been “promoted as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes,” according to a fact sheet from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. However, as a recent article in Scientific American explains, e-cigarettes have been linked to serious burn injuries caused by the explosion of these devices. While we do not yet have enough information to know about the health risks associated with e-cigarettes, we do know that they can cause serious burns to the hands and mouth, and in some cases can cause fractures and paralysis.
What else do you need to know about e-cigarettes and serious injuries? Can injury victims seek compensation by filing a lawsuit?
Learning More About Electronic Cigarettes
As the fact sheet from the national Institute on Drug Abuse explains, electronic cigarettes are made up of three different parts. Each has a cartridge, “which holds a liquid solution containing varying amounts of nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals.” These devices also contain a heating tool, also known as a vaporizer, and a source of power that is usually a lithium-ion battery. To get the e-cigarette to work, the user puffs on the device, which activates the heater. The heating device turns the cartridge liquid into vapor, which the user then inhales.
Using an e-cigarette is supposed to “simulate the act of tobacco smoking” and to deliver nicotine to its user “but with less of the toxic chemicals produced by burning tobacco leaves.” Yet these devices still provide a user with nicotine, which is a “highly addictive drug,” according to the fact sheet. However, as we mentioned previously, the chemical exposures from e-cigarettes do not appear to be the most immediate cause for concern. Rather, these devices literally are blowing up in the faces of users.
Explosions Caused By Lithium-Ion Batteries
The injuries that have resulted thus far from exploding electronic cigarettes are serious, the Scientic American article underscores. The “trail of injuries” reported from these devices is a long one, and it reflects severe harms to users. For instance, a recent e-cigarette explosion left a man “with a hole in his tongue and burns on his hand.” A teen recently suffered damage to the teeth and eyes after an electronic cigarette exploded in a store. And late last year, a user was left “potentially paralyzed” from an e-cigarette explosion, which caused fractures to the bones in the user’s face and to his vertebrae.
Many other e-cigarette users have been hospitalized as a result of burn injuries, many with fire-degree burns to the face and torso. Californians have not been spared. A Southern California man required treatment at the University of California San Diego Burn Center after his e-cigarette exploded.
What causes these explosions? In short, the lithium-ion batteries can explode. While lithium-ion batteries are used in many consumer products, the design and shape of the e-cigarette makes an explosion more likely in the event that the lithium-ion battery fails. A report from the U.S. Fire Administration explains that, “in a lithium-ion battery, the solution can become overheated, reaching its boiling point and then rapidly expand and catch fire, causing the battery to explode.”
In other devices that rely on lithium-ion batteries—such as laptops or cell phones—the hard plastic cases prevent the batteries from causing injury. In e-cigarettes, however, “the explosion can lead the cylindrical container of the device to explode, too, causing the device to be propelled across the room like a bullet or a small rocket.”
If you recently sustained injuries caused by an e-cigarette, you may be able to seek compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit. An experienced San Diego burn injury lawyer can assist you. Contact the Walton Law Firm to discuss your case today.
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