A lot of people hail vaping as a safer replacement for cigarettes, arguing that there’s no tobacco smoke, so it’s have got to be safer. It remains to be seen if that’s true, and then there is a few evidence that this 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 pile up. In November, a man 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 a dozen teeth within a similar mishap recently. In Tennessee, another teen is dealing with the severe burns caused each time a cheap vape pen starter kit caught fire in their pocket a couple of weeks ago.
Statistics outlining just how prevalent this really is remain thin, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency, of things, identified 25 cases of e-cigarette explosions in the US between 2009-2014. However, that list is based only on incidents reported by the media. Provided that vaping’s seen a surge in popularity consequently-last year, the CDC reported a 3-fold increase among middle- and school students alone-the number more than likely is rising. A simple Search on the internet shows no less than 12 explosions in 2015 alone.
Rather than 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 utilizes lithium-ion batteries, you are able to run into problems once the battery is damaged or subjected to extremes in temperature. A quick circuit may cause battery to overheat, catch fire, and even explode. These complaints have a tendency to appear in cheap consumer gadgets that happen to be quickly churned away from factories. Overall, it’s relatively rare, but obviously it happens-most 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 but four US states are averaging temperatures below 50 at this time.
Sometimes, the catch is compounded by cheap lithium-ion batteries that “don’t possess the luxury of employing sophisticated management systems,” Viswanathan says. That can lead to dangerously over- or under-charged batteries. Dendrite can be another potential problem. Dendrite is actually a conductive filament that will form during the period of boxmmod charge/discharge cycles, especially if the battery is rapidly charged. These things can spread similar to a weed, eventually bridging the electrodes and causing a short circuit. “You have basically something equivalent to gasoline inside your lithium-ion battery,” Viswanathan says, “therefore immediately it catches fire.”
Lithium-ion batteries power a whole lot of gadgets of course, and frequently do this without trouble. But things like mobile phone devices and laptops and electric vehicles typically are made to exacting specifications and rigorously tested, both by 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, “If there is truly a problem by using a specific device, just like a lap top or cell phone manufacturer, that company should consider the appropriate action.”
And also to be fair, it’s not uncommon for users to modify their best box mod vape, and any number of websites offer guidelines on how to just do that. The market trade group duly notes that hacked and modded devices can pose a safety risk.
Which begs the question what, if anything, has been done relating to this. Most regulatory discussions about e-cigarettes and vapes target the Food and Drug Administration’s critique of the chemicals in the devices. The FDA is going to introduce rules regulating the business, a move that could classify e cigarettes and vaping products just like tobacco. Products would carry warning labels, sales to minors can be banned, and you’d see restrictions on such things as offering free samples. But little is considered in regards to the safety of your devices.
The Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association says it supports “reasonable science-based regulations,” but opposes something that might “stifle innovation.” But it argues “e-cigs and vapor products 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 customer Products Safety Commission deferred for the FDA, saying this is basically the federal regulator in control there. The FDA does claim responsibility for ensuring the security in the parts from the devices that happen to be used in the consumption of cigarettes and tobacco products. But there aren’t plenty of safety rules for manufacturers to follow along with, as well as the FDA is encouraging people to report any problems.
Viswanathan has a recommendation for companies making what is vaping along with other gadgets that utilize 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 susceptible to catching fire,” he says, “and car makers have discovered efficient methods to create zones where these batteries are safe to operate.”
Granted, the percentages that the vape pen will blow up as an exploding cigar are slim. But it is possible, so the best choice is to find a high quality vape pen from your reputable manufacturer. Look into the parts-once they feel and look cheap, they probably are. Viswanathan suggests ensuring that it’s got some sort of battery management system to avoid shorts and thermal runaway. Be sure you’re making use of the right battery and charger, and don’t modify anything.