Although at one time marketed as a safer alternative to a traditional cigarette, e-cigarettes pose their own distinct health risks. In December of last year, a Fresno, California man traveling on a bus suffered third degree burns when an e-cigarette in his pocket burst into flames. Just several months earlier, another Californian was badly injured – suffering burns and cuts to his face – when his e-cigarette exploded during use. Sadly, these types of disturbing incidents appear to be on the rise.
Users of e-cigarettes inhale liquid nicotine, delivered in vapor form by an atomizer. Proponents argue that – by eliminating the inhalation of benzene, carbon monoxide, and other unhealthy chemicals – an e-cigarette is preferential to a traditional cigarette. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently began regulating e-cigarettes as a tobacco product. As a result, e-cigarettes cannot be sold to minors and must be branded with a warning that nicotine is an addictive substance.
Regardless of the debate surrounding the potential heart and lung benefits of e-cigarette use, however, injuries caused by exploding e-cigarettes are often severe. An e-cigarette that explodes during use will cause burns to the hands, face, mouth, and eyes. Making matters worse in e-cigarette accidents is the makeup of the e-cigarette itself.
Lithium Batteries, Alternative Chargers Cause Most E-Cigarette Accidents
Chemicals like manganese oxide, iron phosphate, and nickel cobalt commonly used in conjunction with lithium ion batteries will continue to burn away layers of skin long after an initial explosion has subsided. These same lithium ion batteries are most often responsible for causing spontaneous e-cigarette explosions during use. Lithium ion battery manufacturers who choose low-quality materials or employ a defective design can produce a product capable of thermal runaway, which is a spike in internal battery temperature that can cause a spontaneous explosion or fire.
Relatedly, e-cigarettes can also cause property damage. One study by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) estimates that up to 80 percent of all e-cigarette explosions and fires occur while an e-cigarette is plugged into a wall outlet. Such explosions are usually attributed to an alternative charger not approved for use by an e-cigarette manufacturer. To that end, the USFA notes that although many e-cigarettes are charged via USB port, no two USB ports are the same. Variances in voltage and currents between competing USB ports can lead to thermal runaway.
E-cigarettes should never be charged with a power adapter or USB port not intended for use by the e-cigarette brand. According to the USFA, 20 of 25 e-cigarette accidents studied between 2009 and 2014 happened while the e-cigarette was charging. These same accidents resulted in 10 injuries, according to the USFA.
New Jersey Product Liability Lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP Represent E-Cigarette VictimsIf you or a loved one was injured by or suffered property damage from an e-cigarette, you may have grounds for a product liabilitylawsuit. Contact the New Jersey product liability lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy today to learn more. Complete our online contact form or call 732-777-0100 to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Red Bank, Edison, or Toms River, New Jersey, where we proudly serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.