A lot of people hail vaping like a safer option to cigarettes, arguing that there’s no tobacco smoke, so it’s got to be safer. It remains to be noticed if that’s true, there is a few evidence how the stuff inside vapes and e-cigs is toxic. But beyond that, there’s the actual fact these items occasionally blow up.
You hadn’t learned about this? Some pretty gruesome reports are beginning to pile up. In November, a guy in Colorado broke his neck, lost some teeth, and suffered burns and facial fractures when his e-cigarette exploded. A 15-year-old California boy lost half twelve teeth in a similar mishap last month. In Tennessee, another teen is recuperating from the severe burns caused when a vape pen starter kit no nicotine caught fire in his pocket a few weeks ago.
Statistics outlining exactly how prevalent this really is remain thin, although the Federal Emergency Management Agency, of all the things, identified 25 cases of electronic cigarette explosions in america between 2009-2014. However, that list is based only on incidents reported from the media. Considering that vaping’s seen a surge in popularity since then-this past year, the CDC reported a three-fold increase among middle- and high school students alone-the amount more than likely is rising. A quick Internet search shows at least 12 explosions in 2015 alone.
As opposed to burning tobacco, vape pens and e-cigs work with a small lithium-ion battery to heat an aerosol cartridge to discharge a vapor that’s inhaled. Like in any device that uses lithium-ion batteries, you are able to come upon problems if the battery is damaged or subjected to extremes in temperature. A shorter circuit could cause the battery to overheat, catch fire, as well as explode. These complaints often occur in cheap consumer gadgets which can be quickly churned out from factories. All in all, it’s relatively rare, but obviously it takes place-most recently, in hoverboard scooters.
“With lithium-ion batteries in general, whenever you operate one outside its safety window, there’s a tendency where things may 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 sorts of but four US states are averaging temperatures below 50 at the moment.
In some cases, the catch is compounded by cheap lithium-ion batteries that “don’t have the luxury of making use of sophisticated management systems,” Viswanathan says. That can result in dangerously over- or under-charged batteries. Dendrite can be another potential problem. Dendrite can be a conductive filament that can form throughout boxmmod charge/discharge cycles, particularly if the battery is rapidly charged. This stuff can spread just like a weed, eventually bridging the electrodes and resulting in a short circuit. “You have basically something equivalent to gasoline inside your lithium-ion battery,” Viswanathan says, “and so immediately it catches fire.”
Lithium-ion batteries power a whole lot of gadgets of course, and frequently do this without trouble. But such things as cell phones and laptops and electric vehicles typically are made to exacting specifications and rigorously tested, both through the company and outside experts. The Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association, which represents for vape-makers, stated it “cannot speak with user error or with respect to a manufacturer for their device” and, “If you find truly a concern with a specific device, similar to a lap top or mobile phone manufacturer, that company should take the appropriate action.”
And to be fair, it’s not unusual for users to change their best box mod vape, and any number of websites offer tips on how to accomplish that. The market trade group duly notes that hacked and modded devices can pose a safety risk.
All of which begs the question what, if anything, is being done about this. Most regulatory discussions about e-cigarettes and vapes concentrate on the Food and Drug Administration’s critique of the chemicals based in the devices. The FDA is about to introduce rules regulating the business, a move that could classify electronic cigarettes and vaping products much like 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 concerning the safety from the devices.
The Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association says it supports “reasonable science-based regulations,” but opposes everything that might “stifle innovation.” However it argues “e-cigs and vapor merchandise is technology products, separate and distinct from combustible tobacco.” They liken these people to consumer electronics.
That’s where things get tricky. Asked when it has any safety concerns about the devices, the buyer Products Safety Commission deferred to the FDA, saying this is basically the federal regulator in control there. The FDA does claim responsibility for ensuring the safety of your parts in the devices which are used in the consumption of tobacco products. But there aren’t plenty of safety rules for manufacturers to adhere to, and the FDA is encouraging people 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 risks of problems. “Lithium-ion batteries fundamentally are given to catching fire,” he says, “and car makers are finding efficient strategies to create zones where these batteries are safe to operate.”
Granted, the percentages that your particular vape pen will blow up like an exploding cigar are slim. Yet it is possible, so your best bet is to purchase a high quality vape pen coming from a reputable manufacturer. Look at 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 stop shorts and thermal runaway. Make sure you’re while using right battery and charger, and don’t modify anything.